Skip to main content

Full text of "An Australian Parsonage; Or, The Settler and the Savage in Western Australia ..."

See other formats


This is a digital copy of a book that was preserved for generations on library shelves before it was carefully scanned by Google as part of a project 
to make the world's books discoverable online. 

It has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject 
to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired. Whether a book is in the public domain may vary country to country. Public domain books 
are our gateways to the past, representing a wealth of history, culture and knowledge that's often difficult to discover. 

Marks, notations and other marginalia present in the original volume will appear in this file - a reminder of this book's long journey from the 
publisher to a library and finally to you. 

Usage guidelines 

Google is proud to partner with libraries to digitize public domain materials and make them widely accessible. Public domain books belong to the 
public and we are merely their custodians. Nevertheless, this work is expensive, so in order to keep providing this resource, we have taken steps to 
prevent abuse by commercial parties, including placing technical restrictions on automated querying. 

We also ask that you: 

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request that you use these files for 
personal, non-commercial purposes. 

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort to Google's system: If you are conducting research on machine 
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the 
use of public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help. 

+ Maintain attribution The Google "watermark" you see on each file is essential for informing people about this project and helping them find 
additional materials through Google Book Search. Please do not remove it. 

+ Keep it legal Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just 
because we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States, that the work is also in the public domain for users in other 
countries. Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of 
any specific book is allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Google Book Search means it can be used in any manner 
anywhere in the world. Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe. 

About Google Book Search 

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Google Book Search helps readers 
discover the world's books while helping authors and publishers reach new audiences. You can search through the full text of this book on the web 



at |http : //books . google . com/ 



^<, ^i,^ 



m^-r^ 



ws:v?' 



Digitized 



by Google 



f 



Digitized by Vj^OQ IC 






J 




Digitized 



by Google 



KA 



Digitized by 



GooqIc 



Digitized 



by Google 



Digitized 



by Google 



Digitized 



by Google 



SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



Digitized 



by Google 




Digitized 



by Google 



Digitized 



by Google 






i^***j 



Digitized 



by Google 







V 
H 

H 
M 

0. 



o 

X 
H 

aa 

OS 



Digitized by V 



/Pe^it,.,A^^i<-'i'"'"'-'i ■ '■ 



m AUSTEALIAN PAESONAGE; 



OR, 



THE SETTLER AND THE SAVAGE 



IN 



WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 



By Mrs. EDWARD MILLETT. 



■ • .« J » 



LONDON: 
EDWABD STANFOBD, 6 & 7, CHARING CBOSS, S.W. 



1872. 



Digitized 



by Google 



' OCT 1^'^ ;) 



I ••• •• 



Digitized 



by Google 



PKEFACE. 



Labge in extent and varied in character as is that great 
district which is called by the general title of Western 
Australia, little has hitherto been known of it in England, 
and little interest has been felt either in its history or its 
progress. The intending emigrant who thinks of turning 
his steps towards New South Wales, or Victoria, or Tas- 
mania, or Queensland, finds no lack of guide-books and 
histories by which to form an opinion of the merits or 
disadvantages of these rival colonies, and it is easy 
for him to decide which of these divisions of the great 
Austral continent appears to present the most favourable 
prospects in his own especial case. But with Western 
Australia, or, to use the name by which it is more gene- 
rally known. Swan River, matters are altogether different 
Until lately, no guide-book at all, of any later date than 
twenty years ago, was in existence, and all the information 
which could be of service to an emigrant was buried in 
parliamentary .blue books and ofiScial pamphlet& The 
report of evidence which had been given before a Com- 
mittee ^of the House of Commons to inquire, into the 
merits of Western Australia as a convict settlement was 
the chief source from which we were able to learn anything 



Digitized 



by Google 



71 PREFACE. 

respecting the colony when, eight years ago, we first medi- 
tated a sojourn in the Southern hemisphere. The peculiar 
isolation of Swan Biver, which is imparted to it by its 
physical geography, has also cut it off in great measure 
from free communication with its nearer neighbours, so 
that, eyen in the other portions of Australia itself, very 
misty ideas are entertained with regard to it. The follow- 
ing pages do not pretend to the character of either a 
guide or a history of the colony. They are simply, as 
their name implies, sketches of the writer's own expe- 
riences as a chaplain's wife during five years spent in a 
country where English colonists of a past generation were 
disappointed because their ignorance respecting it had 
induced them to cherish hopes which could never attain 
fruition, but where modem emigrants may find substantial 
good if they will confine their expectations to what the 
land is really capable of producing. The emigrant who 
desires to meet with minute and technical information 
will find that the blue book, containing the records of the 
census of the colony of Western Australia taken in 1870, 
together with observations upon the results of the census, 
published by the Registrar-Grenexal, Mr. Knight, will be 
of much service to him. He would also find it ad- 
vantageous to furnish himself with a little history of 
Weptem Australia compiled by the son of the Registrar, 
Mr. William Knight, tx>ntaining tables of statistics 
upon every point on which the intending emigrant or 
settler could wish to be advised. Both these works 



Digitized 



by Google 



PREFACE. nx 

can be obtained by post if ordered from the publisher, 
Mr. Pether, Perth, Western Australia. The writer ven- 
tures to hope that, as she has most carefuUy avoided 
saying anything in her pages which could be a cause of 
pain to any individual amongst her former neighbours 
and fijends in the colony — a task not always easy in a 
country of such scanty population that everyone within 
it is known to everyone else either personally or by 
name — some little measure of good-will and kindly feeling 
towards herself may remain in the reader's mind when he 
has come to the conclusion of her unpretending though 
honest and truthful records. In the very few instances 
in which reference has been made to the official actions 
of public functionaries, the writer would wish it to be 
understood that she gives her husband's opinions as well 
as her own, as he, from his position as a chaplain upon 
the Government Establishment, had a fair opportunity of 
observing in what n^anner colonial affitirs were transacted, 
and what influences were sometimes brought to bear upon 
them. 



Digitized 



by Google 



Digitized 



by Google 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER L 

Approach to Aiustralia— Sea birds — Size of waves — Caught in gale off 
St. Paul's — First sight of land — Eeminisoenoes of voyage — Drown- 
ing of German sailor — Man overboard, bnt saved — Description of 
emigrants — Snspicioasly short hair — Petty thefts — Captain asked to 
take charge of photographs — Channel weather — A Wick herring — 
]^jth of children — Soir€e in the steerage — Fortune-telling cake — 
Drop anchor — First sight of bosh — A lonely famding-place — White 
beach — One-eyed native — Description of Fremantle — Scenery of 
River Swan — Arrival at Perth — Profusion of flowers .. . . Page 1 

CHAPTER 11. 

Description of Perth — View over Melville Water — Old Government 
Honse and Gardens — New Government House considered by some 
persons to be too large — Employment of convicts in Perth — No 
chain-gangs seen there — Immigrants' home — Anecdotes of some of 
the emigrants from our ship — Mistakes amongst poor in England as 
to the geographical position of Western Australia, and distance from 
Sydney, Melbourne, and Hobart Town — DiflSculty experienced by 
iknigration Commissioners at home in procuring free emigrants for 
Swan Biver — Additional pubHc buildings in Perth erected during 
the last three years — Town Hall — Wesleyan Church 24 

CHAPTER III. 

Joumej through bush to Barladong — Rood party — Sympathy of our 
driver — Runaway sailors — Singular sound of wind passing through 
fehea-oak trees — Crossing Darling Range at Green Mount — Ezten- 
m '^ and beautiful view — Inn at Mahogany Creek — Australian mag- 
pie-- Burning of team of horses and load of sandalwood by bush-fire 

— **V^ hut in bush — Grass-trees or Xanthorrhoeas — Lm at the 
Lakes -^ Remain for the night — Sofa bedsteads — Journey resumed — 
Eady stfK-t — Great heat — Paper bark-trees — Little inn among 
zamias,and red gum-trees — Kangaroo dogs and kangaroo breakfast 

— First sheep seen feeding forty miles from Perth — Poisonous plants 

— Change in character^of forest — White gum-trees— Cupous lizard 



Digitized 



by Google 



X CONTENTS. 

• — Descent of Cut Hill — View of Momit Bakewell — Arrive at Barla- 
dong — Description of Chnrcl^ and Parsonage — Deaf clerk's welcome 
— Early call for sick visiting •— Melancholy noise of curlews in the 
middle of the night Page 38 

CHAPTER IV. 

Description of Parsonage House — Multiplicity of doors — Verandahs the 
only passage from room to room — Difficulty in procuring necessary 
fittings — First visit to a country store — Beauty of native mahogany 
fioonng if properly kept — Pensioners and wives — Convict depots in 
country districts — Depot at Barladong — Clocks and cooks — Climate 
in summer — Favourite riding-horse — Visits from the natives — 
Appearance and character of Khourabene — Difficulties as to dress — 
Habits of exchanging all things with each other— Natives' duties 
towards strangers — Love of dogs among the natives — Behaviour to 
the women — Blatrimonial quarrel near Parsonage —^ " Bollia " men, 
or conjurors — Cruel custom of avenging a death — Native grave — 
Natives very trustworthy as messengers — Ned sent to carry a letter — 
His behaviour to his wife — Pepper-tea and sham poisoning — Use of 
grease and hi on the skin — Old Isaac's amusement at a lady's riding- 
hat — Red earth or Wilghee used as ornament — Native dandy dress- 
ing himself for a dance — Ehourabene's suit of mourning . . . . 59 

CHAPTER V. 

A new servant — Make-shifts in cooking — Kaolin — Camp-ovens — A 
native " batch " — Variety of out-door premises — Nature of the 
Australian hard woods as fuel — Alarm of fire — Sandalwood and 
'* stink-wood" as fuel — Trade in sandalwood — Licence for cutting 
wood in bush — Bush-fires — Sudden deafness caused by fright — 
Infant burnt — Beauty of bush-flowers, afd want of any useful food — 
Great scarcity of edible roots in bush — Promise of dried fruits fhim 
vine, apricot, and other introduced trees — Oranges and lemons — 
Potatoes — Curious objection of settlers to eat spinach — Name of 
spinach growing wild — Dubbeltje — Origin of name — Pig-melons 
for apple-pies — Sugar-beer — Native brewing — Ned's fear of bad 
Spirit soothed by sugar-beer ' .. 89 

CHAPTER VI. 

Drawbacks to progress of West Australia — " Dangerous " country — Mr. 
Drummond identifies poisonous plants — Land when infested by them 
useless for pastoral purposes — Evil partly remediable— Intelligenoe 
required in shepherds — Impossibility on many roads of employing 



Digitized 



by Google 



CONTENTS. XI 

bnUock-wagons — Scattered nature of cultivated dislHots — Narrow 
ik&m of things in general — Difficulty of introducing tramways or 
railroads — Grain-bearing eastern districts — Railroad anxiously de- 
manded — Can be formed only by Government funds — Different 
interests amongst the colonists — Want of means of locomotion — 
Monotony of colonial life — Seasons in Southern hemisphere — Sunday 
Jjobbodb seem inappropriate — Hot weather at Christmas — Trouble 
of cooking — St. Thomas seems out of place at Biidsummer — An old- 
fashioned Christmas — Excitement caused by cow — ELhourabene 
makes a well-timed visit — Boils plum-pudding — Khourabene's old 
master — Servants' wages paid in live-stock — Temporary prosperity 
of colony — Beminiscences of hard work and* poverty — Listening 
for coach-wheels — Grinding flour by hand — Colonial-made steam- 
engine — Weddings and " traps " — More luxuries and less comfort — 
Shepherds and March-winds — Gin in the sheepfold — Shepherdesses 
— Spears in thatch — Poisoned sheep — Bringing home pigs — Gen- 
tleness necessary in tending sheep — Anecdote of little swineherd. 

Page 107 
CHAPTER VII. 

Opinion of our shipmate on the subject of educating natives — Success 
of Roman Catholic bishop — Wesleyan Mission school — Its failure 
— Mrs. Camfield — Causes of her success with natives — Her difficulty 
in establishing her pupils in life — Anxiety of the Bishop of Perth to 
undertake guidance of 'institution at Albany, and to resign his See for 
that purpose — Petition to abandon project of resignation — Our 
inability to undertake missionary work at Barladong — Mingee and 
her mother — Protest against name of Sally — Mingee handed over 
to her betrothed — Mingee elopes with half-caste — Family complica- 
tions — Khourabene left in charge of Parsonage — Dying native 
woman — Binnahan — Khourabene's opinion of legs — Native funeral 
—Hasty interment — Going to school — Hen and duckling — Quick- 
ness in learning to read — Backwardness in sewing — '^S^ueak'' in 

' boots — Forlorn little native — Names suitable to good sociefy . . ^ 127 

CHAPTER VIII. 

Length of summer and winter — Rapid change of weather — Bull-frog 
— Perplexing soimds — Healthiness of hot weather — No palliatives to 
heat except sea-breeze — Flies — Ants — Housekeeping difficulties — 
Fleas — Flowers — Raspberry-jam blossoms — Cow-keeping — Goats 
and Sabbatarianism — Churning — Scarcity of cheese — Cow-tenting 
— Bells and herd attractive to cow — Sameness of diet — Australian 
mutton tastes differently to English mutton — Bunbury beef— Pink 
everlastings — Road making and mending — "Governor Hampton's 



Digitized 



by Google 



XU CONTENTS. 

oheeses" — Corses and foals — Colonial gates — Aptness of horsee 
to stray — Horse hunting — Obliged to hobble our horse — liDrse 
* gets rid of side-saddle — " Gum-suckers '* — Headlong riders — Eating 
a cMghite — Description of one — Evergreen trees — Clearness of 
atmosphere — ** Choosing frocks out of the sky" — Southern Cross 

— Thundeivstorms — Chimney struck — Twisted trees do not attract 
lightning — Suitability of climate to consumptive patients — Pecu- 
liarities of climate — Bishop Salvado's opinion of it . . . . . Page 149 

CHAPTER IX. 

Natural history often considered a dry study — People of this opinion 
had better skip Chapters IX. and X. — Garrison of cats — How it 
is disposed of — Cats as playthings — Cat brings in yellow lizard 
and green snake — Bob-tailed Guana — Scarcity of scorpions ' and 
abundance of lizards — Ubiquity of bronze lizard — ** Mountain 
devil " — Similarity to granite lichens — Timothy missing — Brought 
back by smiling boy — Dies, and obliged to be buried for want of 
arsenical soap — Untameable Noombat — Supposed pig in cabbages — 
Impossible to identify, satisfactorily, creature called Bunny-ar — Tra- 
dition of alligator — Black snake — Binnahan's escape — "Bunch of 
black-puddings " — Palmer-worms — Trap-door spiders — Walking- 
stick insects — Present of kangaroo — Kangaroo's mode of self- 
defence — Dangerous guest at meal-times — Jacky drinks sugar- 
beer — Little old native brings dog — The chase — New propensity 

— Jacky succumbs to privation from beer — Kangaroo hops away with 
baby — Modes of dressing flesh of kangaroo — Fur counterpanes — 
Kangaroo rats and "boodles" — Dog fails to make distinctions — 
A domestic tyrant — Emu's feathers — Opossum — Bishop Salvado's 
opinion to be taken with reservation — Opossum's noiseless mode of 
walking — Supernumerary daw — Various hiding-places tried by 
Possie; finally selects carpet-bag — Fondness for flowers — I am 
obliged to admit that Possie eats birds — Possie plays truant — 
Betums to supper — Opossum's mode of eating apricots — Possie and 
her daughter — Domestic duties — Fondness for society — Possie sup- 
posed to have rejoined her relations — Tender retrospections . . 178 

CHAPTER X. 

WHEREIN NATURAL HISTORY MERGES INTO AN ACCOUNT OF 
SCARCITY OF WATER. 

Parroquets — Twenty-eights — Rosella parroquets in pomegranate-tree — 
Native brings Bosella nestling— Love of pancakes — Wild Bosellas 
decoy away my tame one — Supposed single specimen of parrot 
— (iows — Silver Tongue — Wagtails and swallows — Bell-hird — 



Digitized 



by Google 



CONTENTS. xm 

GookatooB — Swans— Cockatoo broth — Startled in the dark » A 
thankless offer — Kylies used in lolling birds — Painting a kylie— < 
Bronze-winged pigeons — Ngowa — Method in which Ngowa prepares 
nest — Bare birds driven into inhabited districts by want of water — 
We lose turkey ^Painted snipe <- Cat's tribute to fidelity of artist 

— Cinnamon-coloured heron — Moths and other marauders — Fish 
called Coblers — Snappers and mullet — Crawfish — Fresh-water 
turtles — Frying turtle-eggs proyes a bad experiment — Aileotionate 
disposition of aborigines — Wild ducks — Khourabene's oomplaoenoy 
at a well-filled bag — Game laws — "Father and mother, I must 
hook it away!'* — Strong feeling of ownership with respect to land 
on part of natives — Metempsychosis — Forest laws less severe 
amongst Australians than amongst ancient Normans — Accumulation 
of water in consequence of felling timber — Amends made by white 
man — Corobbenes — Mortality and early deaths amongst natives — 
Bishop Salvado's way of dispersing combatants — His remonstrances 
produce no effect with native husbands — Drought — Want of tanks 

— Floods — Swollen river renders farm-yard impassable — Washing 
on river bank — Inconvenience of distant wells — Temptations to 
gossip at wells — Anecdote of encamping at night without water — 
Enthusiastic welcome of boy and pony — Custom capable of sweeten- 
ing brackish water Page 216 

CHAPTEE XL 

Winter a favourable time for exploring parties — Explorers turn back for 
want of water — Second expedition — Excitement at setting out — 
School copies — Second disappointment — Wild puppies give great 
umbrage — Bushrangers — Impassable bush serves as prison wall — 
Fire-arms indispensable to bushrangers — Fatal occurrences — Native 
trackers — Chain-gang — Conditional pardons — Fact of having been 
in Western Australia suppressed by immigrants in Adelaide — Tale of 
escape — Discontent of ticket-of-leave men on cessation of conditional 
pardons— An oppressive state of law — Truck system — Anecdote 
of shoemaker — Benevolent master — Tendency of truck system to 
destroy gratitude — Archdeacon Paley*s opinion of paying ready 
money — Girl thinks it high time bucket should be worn out — Beck- 
less expenditure of wages — Savings' bank discouraged, and why — 
French convict saves money — Barter — Paying one's creditor with 
eggs — Dressmaker paid with melons and almonds — Hospital ad- 
mission — Nursing the sick — Presents to patients forbidden — Hos- 
pital orderlies — Dentists — French colonel — Ophthalmia — " Bunged " 
eyes — Squints — Measleet and hooping-cough — Mortality from 
measles amongst natives — A ''corporal act of mercy" — Native 
hops and tea — Holloway's pills — Woman severely burnt — Broken 



Digitized 



by Google 



XIV CONTENTS, 

leg — Dislocated hip — Answer to ooo-^tf —; Finding of hnman bones 
— Lost child — Discovery of relics — Beasons for easily losing one's 
way in bush — Anecdotes of Irish neighbour and the poor maid- 
servant — We spend a night out of doors — Silence of bush at night — 
A perplexing adventure — Horse brought back by Ehourabene — A 
** dropped hip" — We are thrown out of cart and feel injured by 
horse's indifference to what has happened — Traces repaired with 
knitting-cotton Page 285 

CHAPTER XIL 

Bishop Salvado's history of Australia and of the Benedictine Mission of 
^ew Noroia in Western Australia — Missionaries dispatched by ^ Pro- 
paganda*' — Budesindo Salvado and Giuseppe Serra obtain leave to 
quit La Cava — Commencement of native vocabulary — Sad incident 
on reaching Perth — Formation of Missions — Captain Scully's pro- 
posal — Missionaries leave Perth and soon present travel-stained 
appearance — Disappointment in finding no water — Lengthened walk 
in search of it — Building of hut — Approach of natives — Insupport- 
able suspense — Mode of propitiating natives — Natives Assist in 
completing hut — Provisions almost consumed — Eating of grubs — 
Bishop unable to provide shoes — Musical entertainment — Help 
arrives too late — Patching clothes — Present of flour — Missionaries 
in character of surgeons — Tales by fire-light — " Jingy corobbery " — 
New views of Missionaries — Cannibalism — Infanticide — TUling 
ground the best remedy — Scheme for founding monastery and native 
village — Perplexity about ways and means — Bemittanoes trom 
*' Propaganda'' — Ikying the first stone — Pompey provides dinners 
for builders — Allotments — Wages — Habits of saving inculcated — 
Naming of heifer calf — Obstacles to success of Mission — Cordon 
sanitaire — Marriage of converts — Aristocratic ideas — Drinking tea 
in bush — Orphan child carried to Perth — Meeting between Father 
Salvado and little travelling companion 273 

CHAPTER XIIL 

Names upon shore-line of West Australia in three different languages— 
Legend of Great Java — Spanish admiral invents name of Australia — 
Pioneers of West Australia exclusively Dutch — Discovery of Swan 
Biver — Finding of inscription on Dirk Hartog's Island — Dampier*s 
shark — M. de Bougainville — Beasons of Admiral D'Entrecasteaux's 
voyage being undertaken — Captain Baudin's ideas about names — 
Tale invented by colonial John Bull — ^^ Naturalists lose their way — 
Captain Baudin's inhumanity — Pewter plate carried to Paris — Captain 
Stirling sails to Swan Biver — His favourable reports of it — Cockbum 



Digitized 



by Google 



CONTENTS. XV 

Soond — Garden Island — Plans for colonization '— No conyicts to be 
admitted — Large giants of land — Deplorable condition of first im- 
migrant — Scnrvy — Early cutting of cabbages — Governor Stirling's 
activity — Unsnitability of goods and furniture — Travelling carriages 
turned to good account — Deal packing-cases found useful — Harp 
le-ahipped — Tents blow loose in windy weather — Boys fasten ropes 
~ Vessel on sand-bank — Boat capsized — Merits of twins not recog- 
nized by Colonial Government — Australind projected — Bepetition of 
dlBappointment — Western Australia acquires a bad name — Dis- 
covery of mineral districts Page 300 

CHAPTER XIV. 1 

Swan Biver immigrants begin to see their position — Valuable commer- 
cial products of Western Australia — Scanty means of turning them to 
account — Settlers decide upon asking Home Government for convicts 
— Suitability of colony as vast jail — Bations — Schemes for im- 
proving circumstances of colony — Superior class of prisoners in early 
convict ships — Long sentences — Grovemment expenditure required 
in West Australia for many years to come — Frequent allusion to 
Government — Government men — Proposal scouted for introductidh 
c^ Government women — Difficulty of procuring female immigrants — 
Women disheartened on landing —^ Bigamy — Situation of convicts' 
wives — UltrarProtestantism — Ohild surreptitiously carried out to be 
christened — Matrimonial disputes — Sooial inequalities — Small 
number of respectable women — A convict's wedding — Shifting 
nature of population — Glazier cannot comcr— Effect of familiarity 
with crime — Causes assigned by convicts for being transported — 
The tax-cart, and other anecdotes — Convict geologist — '* Addicted 
to sharpening of a knife " — Convicts in church — No rule without 
exception — Beligious instruction of convicts on road parties much 
overlooked formerly — Present position of chaplains — Impossibility 
under existing circumstances of chaplains' visits being of much benefit 
to road parties — Books craved for — Warder's disappointment on 
examining box — Convicts' notions on week-day and Sunday services 
— Sort of books preferred by convicts — Sitting near the pulpit — 
Effect on personal comfort produced by convict servants —; London 
pickpocket — Preference for machinery in place of convict labour 824 

CHAPTER XV. 

Schools on the Lrish system — Boman Catholic schools — Schoolmasters — 
Scholastic squabbles — Convict tutors — Difficulties to educated con- 
victs in earning livelihood — Festival of the Barladong Pair — Want 
of recreation — Silver mugs — Popular entertainment — ** Paddle 



Digitized 



by Google 



xvi CONTENTS. 

your own canoe"— Natives attracted to fair— Different costTimes — 
Glass spears — Fights occasioned by betrothal and polygamy — Native 
laws respecting marriages — Sheep-shearers interrupted at dinner — 
Pitched battle in barley-field — Holding beard between teeth — 
.^Isop's donkey — Khourabene in position of Mr. Swiveller — Ehourar 
bene brings home wife — Legacy of brother's widow — Khourabene's 
past history as married man — His escape from policeman — Finally 
acquitted — Reasons for contracting additional marriage — First wife 
deputes making of dampers to second wife — Ladies* quarrels — 
Khourabene and his wives ^Khourabene an outlaw — His aunt's 
lamentations Page 854 



CHAPTER XVI. 

West Australia regarded as the "ugly duckling'* by sister oolonies — 
Contains, nevertheless, best timber in the world — Jarrah wood — Its 
indestructible nature — Blue gum — Formation of timber company 

— First railroad — York gum — Caswirina — Suitability of Jarrah for 
railway sleepers — Improvement of Gockbum Sound — Shingling of 

^ roofs — Sandalwood trade — Whale fisheries — Whaling almost mono- 
polized by Americans — Ball on board the whaler — Begistrar's state- 
ment of abundance of whales — The *' gentleman from Tasmania " — 
Overland expedition to Adelaide — Incidents related by M. Bossel — 
Government geologist — Discovery of new pasture land — Tommy 
Winditch's announoement — Pearl fisheries — Hawk's-bill turtles — 
Sponges — Western Australia viewed as a field for emigration — Neoea- 
sity for raising loan — Manner of carrying on business in the colony 

— Influence of merchant-class : when and how injurious to a colony or 
beneficial to it — Instance of labourer desirous to clear land — Help 
from storekeeper — Beason of land being rented — Small farmers 
often little better than carriers — Clearing lease — Necessity for great 
variety of information — West Australia unattractive to large sheep- 
owners — Presents a different aspect to small capitalist — Prospects 
offered to the hard-working immigrant — Great preponderance of 
convict over free inhabitants — Antagonism between classes to be 
dreaded — Colony unsuited to persons possessing small fixed incomes — 
Storekeeping ten or twelve years ago — Expense of imported goods — 
Suitability of West Australia to labouring men and invalids . . 375 

Appendix .. ,, .. .^ 411 



Digitized 



by Google 



SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 



CHAPTER I. 

Approftch to Australia — Sea birds — Size of waves — Canght in gale off 
St. Paul's — First sight of land — Beminisoenoes of voyage — Drown- 
ing of German sailor — Man overboard, but saved — Description of 
emigrants — Snspiciotisly short hair — Petty thefts — Captain asked to 
take charge of photographs — Channel weather — A Wick herring — 
Birth of children — Soiree in the steerage — Fortune-telling cake — 
Drop anchor — First sight of bush — A lonely landing-place — White 
beach — One-eyed native — Description of Fremantle — Scenery of 
Biver Swan — ^Arrival at Perth — Profusion of flowers. 

Decembkb 10, 1863. — We were now rapidly approach- 
ing the shores of Australia. The great ocean birds, which 
had proved our chief source of amusement ever since we 
had passed the Cape, had vanished of a sudden. Whether 
the same identical flock had followed us for the last few 
weeks, or whether it had been daily replaced by a fac- 
simile, it would be hard to say ^ at all events, each morn- 
ing seemed to bring back the familiar feathered friends of 
yesternight. In them, and in the wild-looking Southern 
Sea on which they were at home, we had found inexhaus- 
tible attractions, for what the scene had lost in colouring 
as we proceeded southwards it had gained in grandeur. 
Even when there was but httle wind the waves appeared 
to us to be of far greater size than any which we had 
previously seen, and it was pleasant to know that this was 
no mere landsman's fancy, but that their magnitude had 



Digitized 



byGo6gIc 



2 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

long ago been chronicled by Captain Cook, in his account 
of his first voyage on the great Southern Ocean.* When 
we could dispense with the deadlights, on days when a 
strong breeze was blowing, I used to spend many hours 
gazing at the view from our open stem-window, and 
watching its alternations as the vessel rose and fell. At 
one time I could see nothing but a huge hill of water 
shutting out all other objects than itself; then, as the 
ship rose upon the wave, would appear an immense fur- 
rowed plain, enlivened by birds of all sizes, from the alba- 
tross to the stormy petrel; some following close in our 
wake, others hovering around us in all directions, whilst 
others sat tranquilly upon the heaving waters, clustered 
together as quietly as ducks and geese upon a pond. 

On one occasion, when near the islands of St. Paul and 
Amsterdam, we were caught upon the edge of a heavy 
gale from the south-west, before which we might have 
nm merrily onwards towards our port, had not our lower 
deck been filled with emigrants, rendering it impossible 
to batten down the hatches. We were, therefore, obliged 
to " lay-to " for some hours — a somewhat provoking delay ; 
but one which enabled us to store up in our memories 
another picture of the sea, never to be forgotten, its waves 
all foam and rage, whilst the albatrosses kept holiday 
amongst them. We had now come so near to our journey's 
end that our friends the birds deserted us, not liking the 
warm sea and air of Australia. Having watched and 
admired them so frequently and so long, we took leave of 
them with regret, and did not consider the Cape Leeuwin 
pigeons and the seagulls which met us near the land at 
♦ See Harkesworth'B * CJook's Voyages,' vol. iv., p. 171. Edition third. 



Digitized 



by Google 



DROWNING OF A GERMAN SAILOR. 3 

all good substitutes for the albatrosses, frigate-birds, and 
other mid-oceun wanderers. 

Early on the morning of the 13th of December, 1863, 
we espied from our cabin port-hole a lighthouse, standing 
upon a long green ridge of land, which we knew at once 
to be Bottnest Island. As this little island is the pilot 
station for the port of Fremantle we might now consider 
our voyage as completed, since a very few more hours would 
bring us to the anchorage. I was not tired of our ship life, 
but the sight of land, after being so many weeks at sea, 
brings with it a sensation of pleasure which can scarcely 
be imagined by those who have never experienced it. 

Unhappily our pleasure was not shared by all with 
whom we had lost sight of the Lizard, since some of our 
fellow-voyagers had not lived to reach the shore. An 
emigrant's child had died on board of illness, and a poor 
young German seaman had fallen overboard. Whilst em- 
ployed in painting some part of the ship's prow, he fell from 
a seat slung over the bows, and was drowned before our 
eyes. We had crossed the southern tropic about a week 
before, and though the day was fine there was a strong 
breeze, and a considerable swell upon the water. Five 
minutes nearly must have been spent in lowering the boat 
and getting the cork jackets for her crew, so that when 
the ship's head was brought round, and the boat was able 
to get away, but very small hope of saving the poor fellow 
remained. The sailors who manned the boat did their 
best, remaining so long absent on their search, that all 
sight of them from the maintop was lost, and the captain 
began seriously to fear that they too had perished. Their 
re-appearance was, therefore, a great relief to us all ; but 



Digitized 



by Google 



4 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

they came up the ship's side with tired and disappointed 
looks, unaccompanied by their poor comrade, and not 
having been able even to recover the life buoy which had 
been thrown overboard the moment that the accident was 
discovered. The irrepressible curiosity of the emigrants 
(of whom we had a good many on board) during so much 
excitement and alarm, led them to invade the forbidden 
precincts of the poop itself, where they created so much 
confusion, that the captain not only ordered them all off 
at once, but, as a punishment, sent them down below under 
hatches, to remain there until the return of the boat. 

A little time afterwards, as I was descending the poop- 
ladder, my eyes encountered the strange apparition of a 
female head upon a level with the quarter-deck, reminding 
me of the heads without bodies ranged upon the shelves of 
Madame Tussaud's Chamber of Horrors. To strengthen 
the resemblance, the throat of the solitary head was bound 
by the narrow red rim of a deck-ventilator ; but the illusion 
thus created was counterbalanced by the strong expression 
of curiosity in the wide open eyes, utterly unlike the closed 
orbs of the decapitated models in Baker Street. I recog- 
nized the features as those of one of the emigrant girls, who, 
having pushed her head through the orifice as if it had been 
a chimney, was now resting her chin in a raised position 
upon the edge of it — an attitude which would have been 
considered martyrdom if otherwise than self-imposed, but 
cheerfully sustained, in the hope of circumventing the 
captain by obtaining a glimpse of wliat was going on. 

It takes but a little time to wind up the worldly affairs 
of the poor, and in the evening of the same day on which 
the poor young seaman was lost, his very small chest w€is 



Digitized 



by Google 



A MAN OVEBBOABD. 5 

sealed up and stowed away in an empty cabin, to be sent 
hereafter, if possible, to his relations at home. These sad 
ciicnmstances received additional pathos when we heard 
from another of the crew, who was also a German, that 
the poor fellow had sailed upon his voyage without his 
parents' knowledge, and that he had of late expressed 
much regret on this account His death, though a sad and 
solitary one, was not without its tribute of tears, for one of 
the emigrants' children, to whom he had often given part 
of his Sunday dinner, cried very bitterly for his loss. 

Though we lost but one man by drowning, it was not 
the only time that the agitating cry of " man overboard ! " 
was heard. We were roused early one morning by a great 
noise on deck, as of all the yards and sails being let fall at 
once, and, on looking from our stem window, we saw a boat 
rising and falling on tlie waves, first hidden for a few 
seconds, and th^i again the red shirt of the steerer rising 
into view. Our inquiries received for answer that a man 
had tumbled into the water through sheer negligence, and 
a minute or two afterwards we heard the doctor bidding the 
steward to have plenty of hot water and mustard ready, in 
case they should be wanted. All this care proved quite 
needless, as the missing man was soon seen returning, not 
only in his senses, but in such excellent case as to be hard 
at work baling out the boat which had picked him up 
Being a good swimmer, he had easily kept himself afloat, 
and the sea was so warm, as we were then in the tropics, 
that his fear of drowning was very secondary to his dread 
of sharks. He did not obtain much sympathy for his 
ducking, as he was known to have gone overboard through 
gross carelessness once if not twice before, and it seemed 



Digitized 



by Google 



6 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

the general opinion that any repetition of the manceuvre 
was to be regarded as an aggravation of an old oflfence. 

I have mentioned the emigrants as forming a large 
proportion of the passengers on board our ship, and we 
could not avoid thinking that some of them were not 
exactly of a character to make a favourable impression 
when they should land in their new home. They were 
divided into three classes, — married couples with their 
families, single women, and single men. The three classes 
were berthed apart, and all communication down below 
carefully cut off. The married folks were mostly decent, 
respectable people, but both the single men and the single 
women were decidedly wanting in propriety of behaviour, 
though the women were worse than the men. They were 
all under the official charge of the doctor, and a great deal 
of trouble did they give both to him and to the captain. 
My husband had offered to act as chaplain while on board, 
if given the necessary official authority and position, but 
he was told at the Emigration Office that chaplains were 
no longer appointed to either emigrant or convict ships, 
" religious instructors " being substituted for them in the 
latter vessels, while the former are left to take their 
chance; he accordingly possessed no official character 
whatever on board, although he usually performed divine 
service on Sunday whenever the weather would permit. 

Of the single girls we had more than sixty on board 
our ship, and one fortnight's acquaintance with them had 
sufficed to show us that tliey were a most unpromising 
set; and moreover, our early impression that several of 
them had made acquaintance with the inside of a jail was 
not at all effaced by the experience and events of the 



Digitized 



by Google 



FEMALE EMIGBANT8. 7 

voyage. One of tbem, whose bair when she came on 
board was cropped suspiciously short, accounted for it by 
saying that her sister-in-law used to pull it out when they 
had a quarrel ; but she was not the only one who might 
have been supposed to have been under the hands of the 
prison barber, for several others were in a similar predica- 
ment as to the paucity, or rather brevity, of their locks. 

There were perpetual complaints throughout the voyage, 
caused by the petty thefts committed upon one another 
by these damsels, such as purloining the steel from each 
other's crinolines, appropriating articles of clothing, little 
brooches, and such-like; but the favourite objects of 
cupidity were the photographs of other people's sweet- 
hearts, the abstraction of which was an act of aggression 
which seemed to demand the taking of some especial 
precautions for the general security, and accordingly the 
girls came one morning in a body to the captain, bringing 
id\\\ them a pile of likenesses, of which they solemnly 
requested him to take charge until the ship should reach 
Fremantle. The first of these girls whom I addressed 
when we joined the ship at Gravesend was, I noticed, 
eating eagerly, and she told me, in reply to my questions, 
tlmt she had been much weakened and pulled down 
through the want of food which she had endured during 
the cotton famine at Manchester. Her face then bore 
witness to her story, for it was quite thin and wrinkled, 
though she was, she told me, but three-and-twenty. 
When we had been at sea a few weeks she had grown 
quite fat and young-looking, and, in company with her 
saucy, good-for-nothing companions, was seen pitching her 
allowance into the sea on pretence that the meat was bad. 



Digitized 



by Google 



8 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTBALTA. 

although it was out of the same cask of pork then in use 
in the cabin, the goodness of which we had especially 
noticed. In fact all the arrangements for the food and 
general comfort of the emigrants were so good, that I 
often used to wish that some of the respectable poor 
whom I had known at home were there to enjoy them ; 
but this was before I knew the colony to which we were 
sailing, and the dangerous prospects it presents to re- 
spectable women if immarried and without parents. 

Our voyage had, upon the whole, been a most pros- 
perous one. Since we had left the Channel we had 
enjoyed a succession of lovely weather, and had only been 
forced to "lay-to" on one day — that which I have already 
mentioned; but while in the Channel the weather had 
for ten days been very stormy and severe. Indeed, on 
one or two occasions during that time, we had had to 
encounter very serious gales, accompanied with some real 
danger and with much discomfort to the emigrants. 
During the worst of the weather my husband used to go 
down into the married people's quarters to look after the 
women and children, and to give them biscuits and 
raisins and any little dainties with which we had pro- 
vided ourselves for our own use on the voyage. 

There was one emigrant from the far north of Scotland 
— I think the Shetland Isles — whose wife was always ill 
and low-spirited, let the weather be what it might, and 
who, when at her worst, could suggest nothing eatable 
that she fancied except " a Wick herring," drawled out in 
such very broad Scotch as took a practised ear to under- 
stand. " A wee drap o' whuskey," which she proposed as 
an accompaniment to the herring, my husband was able to 



Digitized 



by Google 



A YORKSHIRE FAMILY. 9 

procure for her, and a few of our sardines proved a tole- 
rable substitute for the unattainable fish of the North. 
That was indeed a sorry ten days for those who were 
neither exempt from sea-sickness nor able to battle 
stoutly against it, and the doctor was seriously afraid 
that one at least of the emigrant women would succumb 
under her sufferings. The winds were so perverse that 
the Isle of Wight disappeared and re-appeared to us so 
often that we grew weary of bidding it farewell, and 
began to think that we were never to leave the Channel 
behind us and fairly enter upon our voyage. 

On this jumping, stormy sea, upon which it seemed 
unfit for the " chicks " of anyone but Mother Carey to be 
introduced into the world, our ship's company was in- 
creased by the birth of two babies. The parents of one 
of them had set their hearts on calling it after the ship ; 
but as in this case the child would have had to bear a 
name making it a certain butt for small wits all its life 
long, my husband persuaded them to give up tlie notion, 
and to let him christen it after the doctor and the captain 
instead. 

We had with us also a family of children from York- 
shire, whose mother, whenever it was a windy night, laid 
all the blame of it upon her husband for ever having sent 
to bring her out. On these occasions she would moan 
out, " O my bairns ! my honeys ! I will never forgive thy 
father for sending for us ! " She used to say that he had 
gone out some years before as a shoemaker, and had now 
sent money for his family to follow him. She omitted, 
however, to add that his own expenses to Australia had 
been defrayed by Government. 



Digitized 



by Google 



10 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

Towards the end of our voyage, when everybody was 
getting into high spirits, and even our poor Scotchwoman 
was cheering up, the emigrants, married and single, gave 
a tea-party, by permission of the captain, to which he 
and the doctor and the cabin passengers received a cere- 
monious invitation, indited on a note of pink paper by 
the best penwoman of the steerage. The tables were 
supplied solely with what the givers of the feast had 
been saving for three days beforehand from their allow- 
ances. We had no sooner descended into the steerage, 
which served as reception and tea-room, than the York- 
shire woman came up and asked us for a sixpence, not to 
" pay our footing," as might have been supposed, but for 
insertion in a fortune-telling cake, wherein a ring and a 
thimble had been already hidden, and nothing but a 
piece of silver was wanting to complete the equipment of 
the oracle. As neither of us had any coin smaller than 
a shilling about us, it was lucky that the larger piece of 
money would answer as well as the sixpence, and three of 
the company were thus enabled to learn their future 
fortunes to a nicety. There had been a great deal of 
rivalry displayed that day in cake-making, but this 
stroke of imagination at once decided the votes in favour 
of the one produced by the Yorkshire woman. Possibly, 
however, the opportunity that had been afforded to the 
single persons of prying into their destiny caused the 
intrinsic merits of some of the other cakes to be over- 
looked, just as one sees, in the every-day affairs of life, 
the claims of modest merit passed by in order to bestow 
honour on a charlatan. This was the first and only soiree 
that I ever attended on the liigh seas, and, in a week 



Digitized 



by Google 



GAGE'S ROADS. 11 

after its celebration, the captain put his passengers safely 
ashore, and resigned his curatorship of the lovers' 
portraits. 

A few hours after passing the island of Eottnest we 
dropped anchor in Gage's Eoads, about half a mile from 
the shore, and just opposite to the town of Fremantle, 
the chief port of Swan Kiver. There is no regular har- 
bour here, but only a roadstead, the bar at the mouth of 
the river prohibiting the entrance of any but very small 
vessels. The long line of shore was backed by forest, 
above which rose here and there the smoke of a bush fire 
as from a far-off colliery. The tall heavy-topped trees 
reminded me, at a distance, of Scotch firs; to which, 
however, they bear no other resemblance on near approach 
than the great height to which they reach, and the fact 
that their foliage is principally upon the uppermost 
branches. The pleasurable feeling of seeing the main- 
land was marred by the view of the first building that we 
could distiaguish plainly upon it, namely, a long white 
prison on the hill-top erected for the reception of convicts, 
which, by way of flattering tlie imagination both of those 
within and without its walls, is commonly called the 
"Establishment." There were three other merchant 
vessels at anchor in the roads near our own ship, one of 
which had met with rough treatment from the same gale 
which we had encountered off St. Paul's. Part of her 
bulwarks and her galley had been washed overboard, and 
she had now come in for repairs. 

Our voyage terminated upon a Saturday, and as there 
was no possibility of getting our heavy goods landed before 
Monday, we had nearly made up our minds to spend two 



Digitized 



by Google 



12 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTBALIA, 

more nights on board, when a boat came alongside, carry- 
ing a clergyman, who introduced himself as the chaplain 
of Fremantle, and begged ns with much kindness to return 
with him and pass the Sunday at his house. We gladly 
accepted his hospitable proposal, and came ashore, bring- 
ing with us our favourite little black and tan terrier, 
"Lady." 

As we drew near we saw a scattered little town of 
white houses, looking like the beginning of an English 
watering-place, and passed a boat or two rowed by men on 
whose hats ** Water Police " was inscribed ; but the jetty 
upon which we landed was so lonely and deserted that, 
with the exception of these amphibious guardians of the 
peace, one might have supposed that the great jail upon 
the hill had absorbed almost all the population. Three 
men, two ladies with crinolines of considerable magni- 
tude, and a large dog, were the only beings assembled at 
the landing-place where we left the boat. I had been 
curious to see whether our little dog would show much 
delight when she found her feet once more upon dry land 
after her three months' voyage ; but my desire to notice 
this was imluckily disappointed, for the two dogs imme- 
diately began running races together, and it was impossible 
to tell whether " Lady's " hilarity was due to the pleasure 
of meeting her fellow-creature, or to finding herself on 
terra fir ma. 

The sand of the beach was so white and deep that our 
foot-prints, when we crossed it, looked like tracks on 
snow, an illusion which, on further acquaintance with 
the shore, we found to be jmuch encouraged by the loose 
nature of the sand, often blown into drifts and half bury- 



Digitized 



by Google 



A U8TRALIAN NA TIVE8. 13 

ing the dwarf cedars which grow above high-water mark* 
Nevertheless the sands at Fremantle are less dazzlingly 
white than those to the northward of the colony at Cham- 
pion Bay, where, as a woman-servant told me, clothes, after 
starching, might be laid upon the ground to dry without 
any fear of the linen becoming soiled. The fig-trees and 
geraniums that grow around the houses of the town were 
all peppered with the sand blown on them by the wind, 
giving a comfortless untidy look to the little gardens. 
The heat was extreme, the month being December, the 
Australian midsummer, and our feet were quite burnt in 
walking through a small remaining part of the old pri- 
meval forest, deep with sand, which formed a short cut to 
the Parsonage. The shrubs which we passed on our way 
attracted our attention as being of a kind which we had 
hitherto seen only in conservatories or arboretums, and 
also as being our first specimens of Australian vegetation. 
Our kind guide, by way of introducing us as quickly^as 
possible to all objects of interest in our new country, hailed 
for us a native who was passing at a little distance, but 
he was a very sorry specimen, being without exception 
more ugly and ill-favoured than any whom we ever saw 
afterwards, and one-eyed into the bargain. The English 
reader should remember, when he peruses the accounts 
given by many travellers of the low and degraded appear- 
ance of the Australian natives, that no one can form a just 
opinion of them until he has seen them in their natural 
state, far away from towns and living the free wild life of 
the bush. It is as unfair to accept as samples of their 
race those natives who hang idling about the colonial 
towns, as it would be to suppose that a common street 



Digitized 



by Google 



14 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

beggar of London was a type of the English peasant. The 
day after our arrival being Sunday, my husband returned 
to the ship, according to promise, to read prayers to the 
emigrants, of whom the greater part were still on board. 
The captain sent his own boat for him, under command of 
the second mate, who was eager to tell of an accident 
which had befallen one of our fellow-passengers, a Homan 
Catholic priest who had been on shore, like ourselves, and 
had been anxious to return to the vessel early on the Sun- 
day morning to look after some of the Irish emigrants of 
his faith. A good deal of sea was running when two " green 
hands," as the mate called them, imdertook to bring 
him off from the shore, and they very nearly succeeded 
in drowning him alongside the ship by capsizing the boat, 
which they were unable to manage properly. Meanwhile 
I went to the colonial church of Fremantle, where, as I 
was not supposed to know that the choir was led by a 
ticket-of-leave holder, everything seemed homelike. The 
prayer for the Governor, however, used in place of that 
for the High Court of Parliament, recalled to me my ab- 
sence from England ; as did also, on the conclusion of the 
prayers, an appeal from the clergyman to his congregation 
on behaW of their fellow-colonists at Champion Bay, whose 
standing crops had been destroyed by fire. 

After my husband's return from the ship we spent the 
evening at the Parsonage, a very pretty and comfortable- 
looking house, and as our host and hostess were unable 
to give us beds, made otir way about ten o'clock to the 
* Emerald Isle Hotel,' where we had engaged rooms the 
day before, and where our landlady took all possible pains 
to make us feel at home. On Monday we went back once 



Digitized 



by Google 



DESCRIPTION OF FBEMANTLE, 15 

more to the ship, like a couple of Eobinson Crusoes, and 
weVe hard at work all day packing up our things for our 
final departure to the shore. Unfortunately, when we 
had completed our task late in the afternoon, an obstacle 
presented itseK which we had not foreseen, and which 
hindered our return that evening. The wind had risen 
80 rapidly, and had caused so much sea, that the captain 
thought it unsafe to send a boat on shore with us, so that 
we were forced to remain all night on board. After all 
the trouble which we had had in stitching up the wrappers 
which contained our bedding, we could not endure the 
idea of again unpacking it ; we therefore spread out our 
cloaks and shawls upon the cabin floor and laid ourselves 
down to wait patiently until morning. About seven o'clock 
the next day a boat took us off, and we bade an adieu 
to the ship in which we had spent so many happy days, 
and had experienced but this one night's hard lodging. 
We returned to our hotel, where we thoroughly enjoyed 
our breakfast of fresh fish, ripe figs, and bananas, and 
began to prepare for our trip up the river to Perth, the 
capital of the colony. 

Before I say good-bye to Fremantle, I must give some 
account of its situation and appearance. Although con- 
sidered the chief port of the colony it is but a small 
unpretending little town, and one which makes but a 
slight impression upon a new-comer. In the main street, 
and in the three or four short thoroughfares which 
connect the sea-jetty with the river-pier and wharf, there 
are a few handsome and substantial houses, belonging 
either to the Government or to some of the principal 
inhabitants. In these streets, too, are situated the larger 



Digitized 



by Google 



16 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

and more important shops, or rather "stores," of the 
chief traders of the town. The colonial church, which 
I have already mentioned, is well placed at the point 
where the main street branches oflf into two roads at a 
considerable angle to one another. On the point of 
ground between these two diverging streets, and facing 
the very centre of the main street as it leads from the 
shore, stands the church, surrounded by a leirge church- 
yard. Although the situation of the building is so good, 
it cannot lay claim to much beauty either externally or 
within; it is of fair size, and sufficiently commodious 
in its arrangement, but that is all that can be said for 
it. The Roman Catholics possess a much prettier and 
more, ecclesiastical-looking place of worship, and their 
convent and clergy-house also are neat and cheerful- 
looking buildings. 

The huge convict prison, situated on the brow of the hill 
which overlooks the harbour at the distance of, perhaps, 
half a mile, may compare favourably with most of our 
English jails, both as to the character and solidity of the 
architecture and the excellence of the interior arrange- 
ments. In the immediate vicinity of the "Establish- 
ment " stand the residences of the various officials, looking 
much like a terrace of semi-detached villas in the suburbs 
of London. A chapel also, quite distinct from the colonial 
church which I have described, is connected with the 
prison, and is served by a chaplain specially appointed 
to the charge by the authorities at home. From the 
hill upon which all these buildings stand the eye ranges 
over a large extent of very varied and diversified scenery. 
In the immediate foreground lie the banks of the estuary. 



Digitized 



by Google 



DESCRIPTION OF FREMANTLE, 17 

still covered in many places with low forest and thick 
masses of brushwood. The stream, breaking upon the 
river bar, throws up a number of rapid eddies, which 
catch the blazing southern sun and sparkle like diamonds 
in its light. Near the sea-jetty the river is separated 
from the shore by a fine promontory jutting out boldly 
into deep water, and at its base are two or three little 
bays, floored with the whitest sand, and backed by fine 
weather-worn cliflfs of some thirty feet in height. On 
this headland stands the inner lighthouse, below which 
is a landing quay, built for the whale fishery, and a 
curious tunnel, made through the neck of the promontory 
to give access from the quay to the shore near the 
jetty. 

Looking seaward, the eye passes over the pier and 
the vessels lying in the inner anchorage, to rest at last 
on the winter roadstead and the distant shores of Garden 
Island and Eottnest. The remainder of the town is 
clustered around the base of the hill, and bears some- 
what of that untidy, unfinished look inseparable from 
half-completed streets and unpaved footpaths. There are 
no continuous rows of shops, but all the minor stores, 
and the open fruit and fish stalls, are scattered about in 
all directions, and do not make nearly as good a show 
as if collected into a regular compact street. This gives 
the town a bare and deserted appearance, as if no business 
were being transacted, which is really not the case, 
although the trade certainly is not a very lively one. 
- We found, on inquiry, that the distance from Fre- 
mantle to Perth was about fourteen miles by the river, 
and two or three less by land, but that the route by 





Digitized 



by Google 



18 SKETCEES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA, 

water was considered the prettier. We therefore sent 
our lighter luggage to the river pier, to be embarked 
on board the primitive-looking little steamboat, and 
joined her ourselves an liour afterwards. 

It naturally strikes a new-comer with surprise to notice 
that the early colonial authorities, who decided on the 
locality of Perth, have not built their city upon the 
same side of the river as that on which Fremantle is 
situated. One could almost suppose that the founders 
of the capital had been enthusiastic engineers of the 
Brindley type, and that in the same manner as he 
believed rivers to have been created "to feed canals," 
they must have entertained the idea that the special 
object of a stream was to aflford an opportunity for a 
bridge. At all events the placing of Perth on the 
northern bank of the Swan has been attended with very 
inconvenient and costly results. The rocky bar at the 
entrance of the river is no sooner crossed than the stream 
expands into a wide estuary, and any bridge built to 
connect the two banks must be not only of great width, 
but also of suflScient height to allow the masts of small 
vessels to pass beneath its road-way. Even the founders 
of Perth themselves, perhaps, never contemplated the 
carrying of a road across this part of the Swan, but 
during our stay in the colony a fine timber bridge, 
upwards of 300 yards in length, and answering aU 
requisites in height, was not only begun but completed. 
The work was carried out entirely by convict labour — 
the only manner in which such an undertaking could 
ever have been effected in so thinly peopled a colony. 
Up to the time that this bridge was erected the baiiks 



Digitized 



by Google 



BIVEB STEAMBOATS. 19 

of the river were united by one bridge only ; and that 
at Perth, where, thotigh the actual channel of the Swan 
18 of no great width, a Tery long causeway is rendered 
necessary by the character of the land on the southern 
bank, which is low and much flooded in winter. On 
the small and insignificant causeway which existed at 
this place when we first went to Perth, a spot was pointed 
out to me where a gentleman had been drowned on 
horseback in trying to pass the bridge whilst the river 
was in a state of flood. Such accidents are happily 
rendered improbable in future by a new causeway of 
very great length, which was, like the bridge at Fre- 
mantle, begun and finished imder the auspices of 
Governor Hampton, who, in promoting the construction 
of these two public works, has rectified, as far as may 
be, for Perth the disadvantages of a site in which beauty 
of locality was the single recommendation. 

There are three little steamboats upon the Swan, two 
of them plying regularly between Perth and Fremantle, 
and venturing, in very calm weather, as far into the 
open sea as the inner roads; while the third, which is 
little more than a flat-bottomed barge, fitted with a small 
stem wheel, manages to ascend the river to Guildford, 
a few miles beyond Perth. These boats are, even yet, 
the only representatives of the ffernts steamer belonging 
to the colony, although coasting steam-vessels are much 
required, and would probably pay well if judiciously 
managed. In fact, the means of locomotion, whether 
by sea or land, are very deficient throughout the colony. 

A journey to the northern settlement at Champion 
Bay occupies three weeks when undertaken overland, as 



Digitized 



by Google 



20 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

no relays of horses can be procured en route; and, if per- 
formed by sea, the traveller must nSake up his mind to 
such accommodation as can be offered in one of the little 
sailing vessels which ply along the coast in fine weather, 
on board which (if he retains any appetite) he will pro- 
bably help himself at dinner to chops served up in the 
frying-pan, and to potatoes either in the saucepan or in 
a wash-hand basin. In journeying to the south of the 
colony matters are a trifle less inconvenient, as the dis- 
tance is shorter. The horrors of the voyage are curtailed, 
and the land journey of eleven days may even be reduced 
to five by travelling day and night in the cart which 
carries letters from Perth to meet the Peninsular and 
Oriental mail steamboat at Albany. 

We found that those who advised our proceeding to 
Perth by the river had in no degree overrated its attrac- 
tions. Generally speaking, the one great deficiency in 
Australian scenery is the want of water, but here at least 
this is not the case. For more than fifteen miles of its 
course the Swan resembles an arm of the sea rather than 
a river, and gives to the fine forest landscape through 
which it flows that charm which nothing else can supply. 
Its expanse of land-locked water would form one of the 
finest natural harbours in the world were it not for the 
bar at the river's mouth. One of the reaches, which 
reminded us of Milford Haven, might have held a large 
fleet, with room to spare. Alas, that whilst flies have 
found their way into amber and reels into bottles, where 
probably neither of the articles was wanted, no conjuror 
has yet arisen to discover some method of introducing 
merchant ships into these safe and tempting waters! 



Digitized 



by Google 



CATHEDRALS. 21 

Whilst upon this subject, I may mention that the river 
originally gave its name to the whole of the colony, and 
that the old term, " the Swan Eiver Settlement," is still 
often used, in an arbitrary sense, to denote the immense 
country now included under the general name of Western 
Australia. 

Whether approached by the river or the road, the 
picturesque appearance of Perth cannot fail to excite 
admiration. The bold promontory of Mount Eliza screens 
the colonial metropolis from view almost till the moment 
of reaching it, and when this point is rounded the eye is 
at once attracted by a steep bank sloping rapidly down 
to the river, crowned with many pretty residences covered 
with luxuriant creepers, whilst the orange trees and 
bamboos with which the gardens are filled form a rich 
foreground in front of the houses, the mass of green 
foliage descending almost as low as the water's edge. At 
the present time the new Roman Catholic cathedral, 
standing upon an eminence and built of white stone, is the 
most prominent object, but at the date of our landing it 
was less conspicuous, as the steeple had not even been 
commenced. The cathedral of St. George, belonging to 
the Church of England, is unfortunately built upon the 
model of suburban churches such as were common in the 
early part of this century, and is certainly anything but 
an ornament to the town when seen from the water. 

I was much struck by the fig-trees in the bishop's garden 
close to the river; they were of such great size that I 
mistook them at first for horse-chestnuts. Everywhere the 
flowers delighted me. The oleander trees were full of 
blossom, looking like gigantic bouquets; and geranium 



Digitized 



by Google 



22 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

bushes were so common that I saw clothes hung out to 
dry upon them. Soon after we had landed we strolled 
out to look about us, and as our first wish naturally was 
to see something of the " bush," we walked to the top of 
Mount Eliza, but the beauty of the wild flowers was over, 
as the intense heat of the summer had commenced. I 
was, however, much pleased at finding a low-growing 
geranium, with a very sweet-scented leaf; and my false 
impression that there were no singing birds in Australia 
was agreeably contradicted by hearing one with t«vo or 
three very sweet notes. 

As we were to remain but a short time in Perth, and 
then to proceed to the chaplaincy to which my husband 
was appointed, at some distance up the country, it was 
necessary to make arrangements to have our heavy goods 
landed from the ship as soon as possible. We soon learned 
that it was usual that all cumbrous and weighty packages 
should be carried from the ship direct to Perth, and that 
it was unnecessary to pass them through the custom-house 
at Freraantle, provided that they had been examined on 
board before having been finally fastened up. Luckily 
the captain had advised us to have this done before we 
left the vessel, so that we had no custom-house difficulties 
to contend with now, and could arrange matters in the 
manner most convenient to ourselves with reference to 
our journey into the interior. We engaged a man who 
agreed to fetch our goods from the anchorage in a cargo- 
boat, and to deposit them at the wharf at Guildford, a 
small town about eight or nine miles from Perth, from 
whence they would be carried up the coimtry in some of 
the carts or wagons which had brought down sandal- 



Digitized 



by Google 



CARGO'BOATS, 23 

wood or wool for exportation. These cargo-boats are 
something of a cross between a Thames barge and a 
fishing-sloop. Some of them, which are used to convey 
goods to the vessels in the winter roads about eight miles 
from the shore, are large strong boats, able to stand a 
heavy sea ; while the others are smaller and lighter, and 
fit only for summer work. These boats are all built to 
draw but little water, and are flat-bottomed, so as to 
enable them to pass the river bar. Having completed all 
necessary arrangements we were at liberty to explore 
the city, and to form an opinion upon the merits and 
demerits of our new country. 



Digitized 



by Google 



24 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 



CHAPTER II. 

Description of Perth — View over Melville Water — Old Government 
House and Gardens — New Government House considered by some 
persons to be too large — Employment of convicts in Perth — Xo 
chain-gangs seen there — Immigrants' home — Anecdotes of some of 
the emigrants from our ship — Mistakes amongst poor in England as 
to the geographical position of Western Australia, and distance from 
Sydney, Melbourne, and Hobart Town — Difficulty experienced by 
Emigration Commissioners at home in procuring free emigrants for 
Swan River — Additional public buildings in Perth erected during 
the last three years — Town Hall — Wesleyan Church. 

The situation of Perth is, as I have already said, a very 
pretty one. The river is there so wide, and the inward 
sweep taken by its bank so bold, that the town appears to 
stand rather upon the shore of some fine lake than upon 
that of so unimportant a stream as the Swan. This bay, 
chosen for the site of the capital, is called Melville Water, 
and is formed by a deep curve of the river bank, com- 
mencing at the promontory of Mount Eliza, and extending 
for a distance of about a mile and a half until it returns 
towards the opposite shore again by a low sandy stretch 
of land which almost conceals the farther upward course 
of the river's channel. Mount Eliza forms a prominent 
element in the beauty of this spot. Towards the river it 
is almost precipitous, rising in bold cliffs to a height of 
about 150 feet from the water which washes its base. On 
the landward side the hill is differently shaped, since one 
side slopes very gradually away from the summit, in a 
direction parallel to the shore, until it meets the low 



Digitized 



by Google 



VIEW FROM '' BISHOP'S HOUSE.'' 25 

ground nearly level with the beach, upon which the end 
of Perth farthest from the river mouth is placed. Upon 
the verge of this slope, and having an elevated position 
above Melville Water, as well as an easy access from 
the lower part of the town, are built some of the best 
houses in I'erth, and the view from them is so fine 
that it seems a pity that advantage should not have 
been taken of so good a site for Government House, 
mstead of placing it where it now stands in the lower 
port of the town, and but a few feet above the river. 

One of the best placed of these houses is Bishop's 
House, as the residence belonging to the see of Perth 
is called,. and from its gardens the view may be enjoyed 
in perfection. Looking down from a height of nearly 
a hundred feet at the town and river below, the spec- 
tator beholds a mass of cool luxuriant foliage, formed 
by the glossy leaves of the bananas and bamboos which 
thrive in the narrow strip of swampy ground which 
runs along the bottom of the hill-side. On the slope 
itself the dark green of the orange and lemon trees, 
mingled with the lighter shades of the apricot, almond, 
and peach, forms a rich scene of verdure, which is chfirm- 
ingly relieved and brightened by the rosy blossoms of the 
large oleanders with which many of the gardens are 
crowded. Glancing over this lovely foreground, and 
looking somewhat up the river and towards the north- 
east, the eye, after admiring the contrast of the bright 
water glowing in the full blaze of the Australian sun seen 
against the dark forests of the opposite sliore, rests finally 
upon the blue summits of the hills of the Darling Range. 
These hills form the back-bone of the more settled dis- 



Digitized 



by Google 



26 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

tricts of the Swan River colony, and, rising to the height 
of from 1500 to 2000 feet, lie parallel to the western 
coast, at a distance varying from fifteen to twenty-five 
miles from the sea. 

When strolling about the streets of Perth for the first 
time, the stranger will notice a certain unconnected look 
about the different houses and Government ofBces. Most 
of the buildings are handsome and well arranged ; but 
each one seems to stand alone, and the next neighbour to 
a large and well-stocked " store," or to the private house 
of an important oflScial, may be the cottage of a shoemaker 
or the yard of a blacksmith. Moreover, since almost all 
the houses in the best parts of the town stand in their own 
gardens, no actual streets can be said to be formed by 
them, and the general appearance of the whole place is 
rather that of one of those suburbs to which the business 
men of our large towns at home retire after their day's 
toil is over, than that of the working hive itself. Although 
this impression given by the first view of Perth is doubt- 
less disappointing to anyone who arrives with the hope of 
making money therein, it makes the place much prettier 
than it would probably be if a larger trade were carried on 
there. There is a look of cheerfulness and brightness 
about the many gardens which surround the houses and 
the avenue of trees which lines each side of the main road 
passing from one end to the other of the town, that makes 
the new-comer feel that a home there might be a very 
pleasant one. 

After landing at the pier, and having been directed to 
proceed up a rather ugly street which leads from the river 
into the main road which I have just mentioned, the 



Digitized 



by Google 



«• OLD G VERNMENT EO USEr 27 

stranger finds himself in the centre of Perth. If he looks 
up the street, towards Mount Eliza, he sees, at some half 
a mile's distance, a larg^ red brick building of consider- 
able pretensions, placed upon the slope of the hill, and 
facing the very centre of the main street. I believe that 
this really fine building has been erected for the head- 
quarters and barracks of the Pensioner Force which has 
been introduced into the colony during the era of trans- 
portation, but as it was only just finished when we left the 
colony, I am not certain what may be its final destination. 
This main street, of which I have several times spoken, 
is of great width, and being planted on each side with 
Cape lilacs (which, unlike any of the native trees, give 
an excellent shade when full grown) has already a very 
pleasant and verdant look, and will, when the trees are a 
little taUer, make a reaUy fine boulevard. 

Looking from the top of the street leading from the 
pier, in the opposite direction and down the town, the 
gardens of the " old Government House " are close upon 
the right hand, together with the building itself, which 
\s rather small and low, and is now used for various 
official purposes. These gardens are well laid out, and 
contain a few fine specimens of auracarias and pines, 
although they cannot boast of any especial rarities, and 
make no pretence to botanical completeness. A few 
attempts at acclimatization have been made, but none 
of any consequence, and there is still ample room for 
further efibrts in that most useful direction. In the centre 
of the gardens is, perhaps, the best specimen in Western 
Australia of that great desideratum, a green lawn. It 
is formed of a grass called in Perth, Indian coutch grass, 



Digitized 



by Google 



28 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA, 

which is the only sort yet discovered that can stand the 
summer sims without being burnt up into hay. Owing to 
this benevolent Indian turf, the young ladies of Perth are 
not deprived of the delights of croquet ; but are able, like 
their English sisters, to maintain a club for that purpose, 
since the Governor has kindly permitted these gardens to 
be used as a sort of public park. 

Close to "old Government House" stands the new 
abode of state completed about eight years ago, having 
been erected entirely by convict labour. It is a fine 
massive building, and externally appears well suited to 
the abode of a representative of the Queen. Complaints 
have been made that more money has been spent upon 
this new Government House than suited the interests of 
the colony, and that too large an amount of convict 
labour also has been devoted to a building which is, 
say the murmurers, too grand for the pretensions of the 
settlement; money which might have been applied to 
road making and other similar useful works. I cannot 
help believing that this grumbling has arisen because, 
as being built and finished entirely by convict labour, 
no profits whatever from the erection of this large work 
have flowed into Perth pockets, and ho immediate ad- 
vantage to Western Australia has been seen to follow 
the expenditure of so great an amoimt of both money 
and labour as has been required to complete the new 
structure. I suppose that the same feeling has been 
excited in all the colonies to which transportation has 
been attempted, and that Swan Eiver has only followed 
an example set before her by other districts in looking at 
such questions solely from her own point of view, and in 



Digitized 



by Google 



CHAIN'GAXQS. 29 

striying to obtain as large a share as possible of all the 
expenditure connected with the maintenance and feeding 
of the convicts, whilst anxious to monopolize the benefits 
accruing from their labour as well However this may be 
it cannot be denied that any work which is not thoroughly 
a colonial work, such as bridges, piers, or roads, but con- 
ducive only to the interests of the Home Government 
and its officials, such as this new building in question, is 
pretty sure to be unpopular in Swan River. The settlers 
would like to contract for the supply of all the neces- 
saries used by the convict labourers at a good price, 
and then to have the entire benefit of their labour in 
addition, and seem scarcely satisfied unless this is the 
case, even though the Governor may have exerted him- 
self to the utmost in striving to develop the country as 
rapidly as possible. 

Having touched upon this subject, I may here notice 
that the existence and employment of convicts is much 
less striking to the eye of a stranger in Perth, and in the 
country districts, than it is at Fremantle, owing chiefly 
to the fact that it is only at the latter place, and close 
to the "Establishment," that any fettered men are ever 
seen at work. Of necessity irons must be used upon 
some of the thoroughly unruly prisoners, and a chain-gang 
must be a sight sometimes seen in any country where a 
large number of men are undergoing the sentences due to 
their crimes ; but it is only at Fremantle that men under 
Kvere discipline are ever met with in the streets, and 
though you may there pass a body of fifty or a hundred 
men marching back from their work in chains, and escorted 
by warders with loaded and cocked revolvers in their 



Digitized 



by Google 



30 SKETCBES IN WESTERN AUSTBALIA. 

hands, ready for use in an instant, still it is only in the 
immediate vicinity of the great prison that such a sight is 
ever witnessed, and it must be remembered that in that 
comparatively small body of men are collected all those 
convicts who cannot be trusted to obey the very mild rule 
by which the remaining five or six thousand men of the 
criminal class who are scattered over the country are 
governed. At Perth, and in the most sohtary country 
districts also, if you happen to meet a " road party " of 
convicts, returning from their labour upon the highways 
under charge of their warder, you see no chains or fetters 
of any description, secret or open, neither is the warder 
armed with any visible weapon, not even a sword in its 
sheath ; he may possibly have a revolver in his pocket, as 
he is, I believe, allowed to carry one if he thinks fit ; but 
the chances are twenty to one that he has left it at home 
in his own hut, if it be a bush road party, or perhaps has 
even given it to the constable of the party, himself a 
convict, to clean. 

During the whole time of our sojourn in the colony 
we never heard of any instance of an attack upon their 
warder made by one of those parties of convicts, some 
fifteen to twenty in number, who are sent out into the 
interior to construct the roads, and are thence called 
road parties. The danger lies the other way ; the temp- 
tation to make friends of some of the more decent of 
the men under his charge is so great, in the solitude 
of the bush, that an unmarried warder requires much 
strength of mind to resist it With a married man the 
case is different ; he has his own family around him in 
his hut, and does not feel so solitary as the single man, 



Digitized 



by Google 



PUBLIC BUILDINGS IN BERTH, 31 

who has no one to speak a kind word to him but the 
sinners under his charge. Good as the West Australia 
system of transportation has proved itself to be in the 
towns, where the warders can find companionship in their 
own class of society, it fails in the bush in this respect. 
No warder ought to be exposed to even the poesibtliiy of 
being compelled to seek his sole acquaintanceships or 
friendships in the criminal class; he ought always to 
have, at least, one man, untainted by crime like himself, 
to speak to and associate with. It is too much to expect 
of human nature to ask a man to live alone month a^ter 
month, without anyone of his own class near liim. yi^ere 
is indeed a gaol at Perth, and one rather larger than 
would usually be required in a town of some 3000 
inhabitai^ts, but it is in the less prominent part of the 
town and easily passed by unnoticed, so that, on the 
whole, an inobservant person might readily pass a week 
in the place and never perceive that there was a single 
convict in the colony. 

There are not many public buildings in Perth de- 
manding notice beyond those I have already mentioned, 
with the exception of two or three pretty chapels, or 
churches as they are now usually termed, belonging to the 
Nonconformists, and also the schoolhouse under the Board 
of Education, which is so built as to be often mistaken for 
a small chapel, its exterior being so ecclesiastical looking. 
I have already mentioned the two cathedrals belonging 
respectively to the Churches of England and of Rome, 
and need not again refer to either of them. The hotels 
in the town are comfortable and the charges moderate; 
the stranger will find the table cChote system prevalent in 



Digitized 



by Google 



32 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

most of them, although he may have his meals in private 
if he prefers to do so ; or, if he desires to obtain lodgings 
in a private house, he will not find much difficulty in 
procuring accommodation of a respectable and convenient 
character. 

There was, however, another public building which we 
were anxious to visit before we left Perth for the interior, 
and that was the " Home." This is a Government asylum, 
established as a respectable refuge for all those emigrants 
from England who may not have succeeded in obtaining 
employment immediately after landing; and it is also 
used as a sort of almshouse or workhouse for those old 
people who may have fallen into poverty, and for whom 
Government aid has become indispensable. Purists, in 
language insist upon calling this building the Immigrants' 
Home, whilst others, who remember that its especial 
purpose is to provide a shelter for those new-comers who 
have not as yet been able to convert themselves into 
dwellers in the new country, in any useful sense of the 
term, but are still as waifs and strays cast upon its shore, 
consider that Emigrants' Home is the more legitimate 
title for the abode of those unlucky exports from England 
who have not at once been able to obtain admission into 
the human circulation of the new country, but are still, 
as it were, in store at the place of landing. 

On inquiring at the " Home " as to the fate of our old 
acquaintances on board ship, we learned that our York- 
shire friend, the successful cake maker, had been joined 
on landing by a very decent-looking man who was doing 
well as a shoemaker, and who seemed, though a convict, 
to be respected as a man of business. He had prepared 



Digitized 



by Google 



IMMIQRANTff HOME. 33 

a very comfortable home for liis wife and children, and it 
seemed probable that they might all prosper, could she 
make up her mind to do her best in a scene so totally 
new to her. 

This family seemed the only one among the " married 
people " class of immigrants that had much prospect of a 
good start in their new country. Several of our other 
shipmates were still lingering unemployed in the "Home," 
apparently very downhearted. The place did not look 
much like its name of "home" to the new-comers just 
at first, for, to an English eye, the accommodation, which 
is quite suflBcient for comfort in the climate of Australia, 
looks bare and cold and meagre, so that it gave our poor 
friends somewhat of the same impression which we can 
fancy to be made upon a previously happy child, when 
it is introduced into one of those schools called "happy 
homes" in the advertisements. 

We were shown into a long room, divided off into sepa- 
rate spaces by wooden partitions, each space being of good 
size, and doing duty as a private apartment, but much 
resembling the loose boxes in a nobleman's hunting stable. 
Th^e represented unfurnished lodgings for the immi- 
grants, some of whom, perhaps, would, if the spaces had 
contained more accommodation, have bestirred themselves 
but slowly in seeking independent homes of their own. 
The place was perfectly clean and well ventilated, and 
plenty of water was at hand in the yard of the building, 
a great comfort with the thermometer at 90*^ as it then 
was. There was also no lack of water in the form of tears 
as we went in, for a poor old Irishwoman, whom we found 
sitting on the floor, with her feet straight out before her 



Digitized 



by Google 



34 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

and her back against the wall, just as we had often seen 
her sitting on deck resting against the bulwarks, was cry- 
ing grievously, in company with her daughter. When we 
learned the reason for all this lamentation we did not 
wonder that they were both disconsolate. The poor souls 
had come out to Swan Kiver intending to proceed from 
thence, believing it to be a very easy trip, to join the 
husband and father in Melbourne ; and they now found 
themselves in Australia with almost less chance of getting 
to Melbourne, in their penniless condition, than if they 
had remained in London. 

Another emigrant, who came from the Midland counties 
of England, and whose relations lived in Tasmania, was in 
equal trouble. He assured my husband that he had been 
told at the Emigration Office at home that he could easily 
reach Hobart Town when once landed at Perth, and sup- 
posed that he would have to go thither by coach, but wished 
to know whether he would be more than one night upon the 
road. Many cases of this nature have occurred among the 
poor whilst Western Australia was the only colony to 
which free emigration, at the expense of Government, was 
carried on. 

Australia is known to be an island, and the poor at 
home who desire to reach its shores seem to have no idea 
of its enormous extent ; but to fancy that, if once landed 
in any one of its settlements, they may easily transfer 
themselves, at no great expense, to any other colony to 
which they desire to proceed. I cannot but think that 
much seK-deception upon this point is allowed to exist 
among the English poor, and that the country agents of 
the Emigration Commissioners take no pains to counteract 



Digitized 



by Google 



IMMIGRANTS. 35 

their ignorance. Even amongst well-educated persons, I 
have found much surprise to be excited when I have 
spoken, since my return, of the great diflBculty of visiting 
any of the other colonies from Swan Eiver. The fact is, 
that the very lowest passage money from Fremantle to 
Adelaide, the nearest Australian port, is six pounds, and 
that as no steamboats whatever ply on the coast the voyage 
must be made in a sailing vessel, of perhaps 250 tons 
burden, and noiay last a fortnight or three weeks. 

These facts are but little known at home, and the poor 
fency that, when arrived at Government cost in West 
Australia, they will be able, by the savings accruing from 
a week's work, to make their way to any other part 
of the continent in which they may have friends or rela- 
tions, amongst whom they wish finally to settle. When 
these people, unwarned at home, land in the colony 
and find out their mistake — find that they are, as it were, 
compelled to remain for years in a place where they 
had intended to spend only months—they are naturally 
angered and wrathful, and the consequence is that they 
learn to hate and abuse the place from the very first, and 
when they have succeeded at last in getting away to 
Sydney or Melbourne, they spread an evil report of Swan 
River amongst all their fellow-artisans. 

The excuse made by emigration agents for not having 
published freely all the disadvantages of the colony, is the 
following. They say that free emigrants were clamorously 
demanded during the era of transportation, and that it 
was not their business to deter people from accepting the 
Government offer of a free passage, a boon which they 
oould get nowhere else. They would also say that wages 



Digitized 



by Google 



36 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

were good in Swan Eiver, and that there was a fair 
chance for all who were willing to work. It is needless to 
refer to the past, and now that transportation has ceased 
the whole aspect of the case is altered ; but I would ask 
those who know the colony well to say whether it is not the 
truth that the great majority of the respectable labouring 
and artisan classes who have been sent out as free emi- 
grants during the last ten years has left the colony for 
Melbourne and Adelaide, and carried an evil report of its 
prospects away also? 

Since we landed, in December 1863, several important 
additions to the public buildings have been made, which 
have much improved the general appearance of the town. 
Of these the new Town Hall deserves the first mention. 
It is a fine building, upward of 170 feet in length by 
80 feet in breadth, accommodating two thousand persons. 
It is constructed upon arches, so that the basement may 
form a market-place, a convenience much wanted pre- 
viously, and it is surmounted by a tower 130 feet in 
height, and of an ornamental character. As far as it was 
possible to form a just opinion upon a building still in 
progress when we left the colony, this new hall seemed 
likely to add much to the aspect of the town, the tower 
especially promised to be very effective in the more distant 
view when approaching from Guildford or Fremantle by 
the road. 

During the last year or two a handsome church has 
been erected by the Wesleyan body, which is now, I 
believe, completed and opened. It is described as having 
a very church-like and graceful exterior, with a lofty, 
though light spire, and good windows, so tfiat it must 



Digitized 



by Google 



WESLEY AN CHURCH. 37 

fonn another welcome addition to the general appearance 
of the capitaL One cannot but hope that, before many 
more years pass by, an effort may be made by the members 
of the Church of England to erect a building a little less 
bam-like than their present cathedral, which must, I fear, 
present but a poor contrast to the new tower of the Eoman 
Catholic, aad the graceful spire of the Wesleyan church, 
if the latter building be indeed as elegant as the descrip- 
tion given of it in the Perth newspapers, which we have 
received since we left the colony, would lead us to 
believe. 



Digitized 



by Google 



38 SKETCHES IN WESTEBN AUSTBALIA. 



CHAPTEK III. 

Journey through bush to Barladong — Boad party — Sympathy of our 
driver — Runaway sailorar — Singular sound of wind passing through 
thea-oak trees — Crossing Darling Bange at Green Mount — Exten- 
sive and beautiful view — Inn at Mahogany Creek — Australian mag- 
pie — Burning of team of horses and load of sandalwood by bush-fire 

— "V" hut in bush — Grass-trees or Xanthorrhoeas — Inn at the 
Lakes — Bemain for the night — Sofa bedsteads — Journey resumed — 
Early start — Great hent — Paper bark-trees — Little inn among 
zamias, and red gimi-trees — Kangaroo dogs and kangaroo breakfast 

— First sheep seen feeding forty miles from Perth — Poisonous plants 

— Change in character of forest — White gum-trees — Curious lizard 
— Descent of Cut Hill — View of Mount Bakewell — Arrive at Barla- 
dong — Description of Church and Parsonage — Deaf Clerk's welcome 

— Early call for sick visiting — Melancholy noise of curlews in the 
middle of the night. 

We were now becoming anxious to turn our steps towards 
our new home, which was appointed to be at Barladong* 
— " over the hills," as the country eastward of Perth is 
generally called, on account of the road thither crossing 
the Darling Eange at Green Mount. Our future resi- 
dence was only sixty miles from Perth ; but the journey, 
when undertaken with one horse, required two days to ac- 
complish. My husband had set out some little time before 
me, leaving me to follow him with our maid-servant She 
and I travelled in a hired dog-cart, driven of course by a 
convict, though the only circumstance that made me guess 
what he had been was the pitying manner in which he 

♦ For reasons which will be readily understood when the limited cha- 
racter of the population of the colony is considered, I have preferred to 
use the native rather than the colonial name of the district. 



Digitized 



by Google 



BOAD PABTY. 39 

spoke of the " poor fellows " as we passed a road party ; an 
amiable way, at all events, of betraying his origin. The 
objects of his sympathy looked so very lazy and sulky as 
they sat together breaking stones, that my compassion 
was chiefly spent upon the warder, whose duty it was to 
stand watching them, and I could not help thinking that 
it would be pleasanter to break the stones oneself, than to 
have the officer's occupation. The road at this place was 
deep with sand, so that for a long distance we could only 
go at a foot's pace, but that was six years ago, and the 
warders and convicts between them have since then made 
it more fit for fast traveUing. 

The whole of our journey lay through forest, except 
when passing the clearings near and around the town of 
Guildford, which is ten miles from Perth ; after that the 
wilderness closed in on us again, and the road became so 
lonely that I fancy I can recall to mind every group which 
we encountered in the remaining fifty miles. In spite of 
our seeing so few persons, I felt some surprise that our 
driver should be able to furnish me with the history of 
nearly all of them ; but a short residence in the colony 
seemed to put me on a par with him in this kind of infor- 
mation ; the list of the names of its principal inhabitants 
being as easily acquired and remembered, as that of one's 
fellow-residents in a not over-large English parish. 

The first wayfarers whom we met were two handcuffed 
prisoners, on foot, but accompanied by a mounted police- 
man, who was walking his horse for their benefit. My maid 
recognized the manacled pair as a couple of sailors from 
our ship, who had, it seems, taken French leave, and run 
away from their work of unloading the cargo. Yet a few 



Digitized 



by Google 



40 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

miles farther, and a doctor rode rapidly by, to attend 
upon a man who had been that morning crushed under a 
load of sandalwood. Our driver, having already picked 
up the news of the accident during a short stoppage that 
we made at Guildford, appeared much interested in the 
contents of a case which was slung round the doctor's 
neck, opining that " he heis got his instruments." 

The man of medicine was in the right to urge on his 
horse whilst he could do so with a safe conscience, for we, 
following in his track, soon found ourselves upon another 
sand plain, across which lay the long and disheartening 
perspective of our road, stretching in a perfectly straight 
line of some two or three miles, through every step of 
which the sand lay fetlock deep. Had the time of year been 
winter, our slow pace would have been fully compensated 
by the greater leisure afforded us for observing the exqui- 
site flowers which at that season would have adorned these 
sandy tracts, though, irrespective of flowers, it must not 
be supposed that a sand plain in Western Australia in- 
variably represents the bare and naked waste which the 
name implies to English ears. Many sand plains, it is 
true, look wild enough, with patches of low growing scrub, 
varied only with the gaunt stems of Xanthorrhoea, and a 
few weird shea-oaks destitute of leaves, between whose fine 
countless twigs, doing duty for foliage, the air sighs in 
passing with the sound as of a distant railway train, and 
mocks the sense of hearing in much the same manner as 
a mirage of water deceives the eye in the deserts of other 
lands. But on the plain that I am describing, our view, 
though no longer hemmed in with tall trees, was often 
much blocked with brushwood, amongst which prevailed 



Digitized 



by Google 



OREEN MOUNT. 41 

largely a very graceful kind of broom, interspersed with 
Banksias from twelve to fourteen feet in height, whose 
bottle-brush shaped blossoms were now maturing into 
large amber-coloured cones. Without this vegetation, 
however, we might have fancied that the sandy flat over 
which we were crawling was the head of an estuary, to 
be overflowed with the next spring-tide, and that the 
Darling Bange before us was an existing boimdary line 
betwixt sea and land. 

At the foot of Green Mount, where a road party had 
abeady commenced the solid causeway which at the 
present day puts such imaginings to flight, the sand mer- 
cifully came to an end, and we got out of the dog-cart to 
relieve our horse by walking up the steep ascent. The 
nearer that I reached the summit of the mount, the greater 
became my admiration of the scenery that lay aroimd me. 
On every side as far as the eye could reach it was all 
green forest, excepting in one direction where the sea lay 
dimly upon the remote horizon, and a thin shining light 
revealed the course of the Swan. The beautiful round 
masses of tree-tops upon which we looked down were 
varied only by sunshine and cloud shadows, with here and 
there the rising smoke of a bush-fire ; the oneness of the 
scene being so complete, that strange to say, it recalled the 
idea of standing on the deck of a ship and seeing nothing 
but water all around. Close at hand, and descending 
steeply to a valley filled with broken fragments, was a bold 
mass of rock, some twelve or fifteen feet in height, off 
which a man sprang in the early days of the colony, with 
a spear in his back, when escaping from a party of natives 
who disputed his first attempt at driving cattle over the 



Digitized 



by Google 



42 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA, 

mount. A poor young fellow, acting as herd-boy on the 
occasion, was killed. The fugitive was doubly fortunate, 
as he not only reached the rough ground with his bones 
uninjured, but stumbled upon a humane old native in the 
stony valley who drew the spear out of his wound. 

Two or three miles beyond this colonially historic point 
brought us to a stopping-place called Mahogany Creek, 
where a little inn stands by the wayside. The sun was 
so powerftd that it was a comfort to get imdemeath the 
long trellissed pathway, arched over with vines, which led 
up to the door, where an Australian magpie was playing, 
which bit my poor dog as we went in. This bird's hatred 
to dogs was surpassed only by her aversion to children, 
the sight of whom in an appro£U3hing vehicle would at 
any time bring her flying from a distance to be ready 
on the offensive at the moment of their alighting. Such 
conduct in her pet hurt the landlady's feelings, as evinc- 
ing a heartless disregard for the interests of the hostelry, 
and the last time that I asked after poor Mag, I was told 
that she had been got rid of on that account. 

The business of the lark as harbinger of morning 
devolves in Australia upon the magpies, which on this 
account are commonly called "break-of-day birds." Their 
song is like the playing of a very soft flute, and when 
one thinks of the painful efiect upon the nerves of being 
awakened by a discordant or violent noise, there appears 
an extreme beneficence in the sweetness of tone which 
has been everywhere imparted to those whose office it is 
to arouse creation in general. The magpies sing through 
the day also, and especially towards evening, wid it 
would be difficult to imagine sounds more soothing than 



Digitized 



by Google 



MAHOGANY CREEK. 43 

are their notes in the bush just half an hour before sun- 
down. The plumage of the bird is black and white, 
the feathers being a trifle fuller and more abundant than 
those of his English relations, though he does not carry 
his tail in their jaunty fashion; nor, as far as I am 
aware, is he of any use in augury. 

Around and above the little inn, upon a steep bank, 
grew mahogany trees of a great size, easily distinguished 
bom another kind of eucalyptic tree, conmionly called in 
the colony the red gimi, which in some points they 
resemble, by the peculiar growth of their bark, which is 
wreathed in curved lines about their trunks. 

In this spot the word " creek " meant only a valley, at 
the bottom of which ran a stream where the landlady's 
Uttle daughter told me that the emus had come to drink 
in one very dry season, when thirst conquered their shy- 
ness and their dread of venturing near men's habitations. 
A short distance beyond the creek we came upon a turn 
of the road to which a melancholy interest has been 
since attached, by the burning at that spot of four 
horses with their load of sandalwood in a February bush- 
fire. In that month, which corresponds to August in the 
north, the dryness of the Western Australian forest has 
reached its culminating point, and the sight of trees on 
fire is so much of an every-day matter as to excite little 
attention, unless the conflagration should spread very 
much, so as to encroach upon sheep-runs or endanger 
homesteads. 

Amongst the few exports from the colony sandalwood 
is one of the chief, and during part of the year heavy 
teams, high laden with precious logs, are continually 



Digitized 



by Google 



44 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

dragging in weary file from the eastward to the sea-coast, 
whence much of the wood is shipped for China, there to 
be burnt as incense in joss houses. On the day of the 
accident to which I have alluded, no fewer than nine 
teams were close on the heels of each other at this point 
of the road, whither a fire was rapidly approaching ; but 
a wide thoroughfare is generally a sure barrier to such 
flames, and the travellers all passed safely with their 
loads, excepting the last teamster, who, although the fire 
was then close to him, saw no reason for supposing that 
he should not be equally fortunate, when a blazing tree 
suddenly blockaded the road by falling right across it. 
He tried to turn his horses on one side, and to make a 
little circuit in the forest, but the poor frightened animals 
would not obey, and he could not loose them from their 
gearings, for the flames were too quick for him. " It took 
but ten minutes," as his father told us, "and all that 
remained of the horses was a little heap of white bones by 
the road-side." The cart and its load were also consumed ; 
nothing in fact was left but the poor man himself, shock- 
ingly burnt, especially about the hands. 

Not far from the scene of this mournful occurrence we 
passed a saw-pit where men were hard at work amongst 
the gigantic mahogany -trees, and a woman with a child 
in her arms stood at a hut door watching us as we drove 
by. She seemed to have found what Cowper sighed for — 
" a lodge in some vast wilderness." The lodge itself would 
perhaps have pleased the poet less than the wilderness, for 
bush huts are of the very rudest construction, and those 
which are called V huts, from their resemblance to the 
letter V turned upside down, are nothing but thatched 



Digitized 



by Google 



BLACKB07 TREES. 45 

roofe set upon the ground, with perhaps a mud chimney 
built separately on one end. Sometimes instead of 
thatch the erection is covered with strips of paper bark« 
The arrangements beneath this roof, when once made, 
admit of no capricious alterations ; stumps driven into 
the earth at a greater or lesser height, with boards 
nailed across them, compose alike both bedstead and 
table. Some little distance beyond the saw-pits we met 
three or four men bringing down a little troop of horses 
to be shipped for the Indian market. 

That which most attracted my eyes in this my first 
journey through the bush, was the very singular-looking 
tree called " Blackboy " by the colonists, known to 
botanists as the Xanthorrhoea, or grass-tree. The stem is 
bare and often quite straight, about ten to fourteen inches 
in diameter, with a wide-spreading foliage at the top 
which one must call grass for want of a better name, 
though it quite as much resembles rushes, on which, in 
many of the runs, the cattle depend mainly for their food. 
The last year's crop, if it has not been eaten ofT, hangs 
down like a beard, brown and faded, in which state it is 
used for all descriptions of thatching, whilst the upper 
part is of a fresh green colour, out of which there often 
rises a taU slender rod, shaped like a bulrush or a poker, 
according to the fency of the beholder. 

The "blackboys" vary in height from one foot to 
twenty, and when seen for the first time, and from a 
distance, might easily be mistaken for savages dressed 
up in the traditional wavy head-dress of a South Sea 
Islander. The colour of the stem is not naturally black, 
but brown; nevertheless, most of them are so com- 



Digitized 



by Google 



46 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

pletely blackeBed with bush-fires, that they look as 
much like a piece of stove-piping as can well be ima- 
gined. The body of the tree is most curiously formed 
of shining resinous flakes, which are highly inflammable, 
and when set alight bum with great brilliancy. If people 
are passing the night out of doors, they always search for 
a piece of "blackboy" to kindle their fire with, as it 
ensures such a speedy blaze ; and in the dwelling-houses 
it is in request not only as a fire-reyiver, but even to read 
by, when, as sometimes happens, a candle is scarcer than 
a book. I have been told, though I do not know with 
what truth, that to bum much " blackboy " in a house is 
very bad for the complexion of its inmates ; and I have 
found that if a flake or two accidentally fall into the hot 
water which is used for washing clothes, they will be 
always, here and there, stained with a colour varying 
from mauve to yellow. 

We made one more stoppage before reaching our final 
resting-place for the night, to water our horse at a spring, 
where an old oven stood solitary, bearing w^^ess that a 
road party had once encamped beside the water. Now 
that the day's heat was over, I would willingly have 
loitered a little on the road, but it was getting so dark 
amongst the trees that we made the best of our way 
onwards, and soon after, when the night had set in, we 
came upon the light of a great fire, and saw the warder 
of a road party standing on the look-out for an expected 
ration cart, the advent of which he had hoped for on 
hearing the sound of our wheels. We had not long 
passed him, when we began to hear the croaking of a 
multitude of frogs ; a most welcome sound, as it conveyed 



Digitized 



by Google 



THE LAKES. 47 

intelligence that we had arrived at a large marshy pool 
called the Lakes, on whose edge stood the little inn which 
was to be the end of onr day's journey. There were two 
or three fires blazing on the water s brink, showing where 
some teamsters had drawn up their wagons, and were 
passing the night out of doors; and a number of kangaroo 
dogs came barking out of the inn, annoxmcing that we 
had finished the first thirty miles of our road to Barla- 
dong. It was a primitive sort of a house, and in the 
sitting-room to which I was shown were great sofas, 
suggesting the idea that they often served for beds. 
Also there were three thick volumes of a geographical 
work, containing long extracts from Captain Cook's 
voyages, which had an air of suitability to the far-off 
place in whiqh we found ourselves; but I made no 
acquaintance with them that night, for though we had 
come so short a distance, we had been more than ten 
hours upon the road, and, quite tired out, were very glad 
to get to our beds. 

We resumed our journey at six o'clock on the following 
morning, and we should have been wiser had we set out a 
full hour earlier, for the heat became very great long 
before we had finished the nine miles which lay between 
the Lakes and the inn where we intended to breakfast. 
Growing beside the pool, and close to the ashes of the 
teamsters' fires, were the first paper bark-trees that I had 
ever seen. Their shapes were very picturesque, being 
much twisted and gnarled; the w^hiteness of the bark 
contrasting well with their green foliage, which is close 
and thick, affording more shade, in spite of the smallness 
of the leaf, than many other of the Australian trees. In 



Digitized 



by Google 



48 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTBALIA. 

fctct, I now corrected my impression, that she whom I had 
seen on the previous day had realized the poet's wish. 
Two-thirds of it she certainly had attained, namely, the 
"lodge" and the "wilderness," but the "boundless con- 
tiguity of shade" which had formed the latter part of his 
aspiration had not been granted to her. Whatever merits 
may belo^^g to trees of the eucalyptic kind, that of 
bestowing shade is not one of them. They reach a great 
height before throwing out their branches, and the leaves 
upon these hang straight down from their stalks, so that 
the rays of the sun penetrate the foliage most unmercifully. 

I was very glad when we gained the shelter of the next 
stopping-place ; a little low-roofed inn, amongst towering 
red gum-trees, beneath which the waving bracts of the 
zamias, or palms as they are popularly called in the 
colony, imparted somewhat of a semi-tropical character to 
the foreground. Here another large party of kangaroo 
dogs came bounding out, and barking in a manner that 
appeared quite formidable. I found, however, that they 
had no worse intention than that of announcing the 
arrival of customers to the inn, and that the noise 
answered the purpose of an ostler's bell. The hubbub 
was appeased by the appearance of the mistress of the 
house, who came forward to welcome me in kind Irish 
accents ; and the dogs, who now knew better than to over- 
step their duty, relapsed into silence. They had evidently 
played their part in providing for my 'breakfast, for 
kangaroo figured among the dishes. 

Our last halt was to water our horse at a wayside well, 
called St. Eonan's (whether in honour of the saint, or of 
Scott's novel, I never knew), where we found one or two 



Digitized 



by Google 



FIRST FLOCK OF SHEEP. 49 

travellers who had stopped for the same purpose as our- 
selves, but the presence of water had attracted no per- 
manent inhabitants to the spot ; and an obsolete brick- 
kiln which stood hard by added to its loneliness a look of 
desertion. 

A few miles farther brought us to a place called the 
Six Mile Gulley, where the rains of the previous winter 
had left an abundant supply of water in a deep channel 
of granite, and where a cottage with a little farm-yard 
surrounded by a neatly-made staked fence, appeared 
amongst the trees. It was the first settled habitation, 
with the exception of the inns, that we had seen in a dis- 
tance of fifty miles, for the huts of men who are sawing 
timber in the bush are almost as unlike permanent resi- 
dences as are the tents of wandering Arabs. Here also, 
beneath an acacia of that kind familiarly named the 
" raapberry jam," because the perfume of the wood when 
freshly cut resembles that of the preserve, were clustered 
the only sheep that I had encountered on my journey. 
The truth is, that but a small proportion of land in this 
part of Western Australia is fit for sheep, on account of 
the excessive growth of poisonous plants. In some parts 
they cover the ground for miles and miles with deadly 
luxuriance, and it so happened that I had been travelling 
through one of the worst districts. Where the noxious 
vegetation is less abundant, the shepherds by dint of in- 
cessant care can prevent the sheep from eating it ; and I 
have heard that the lambs of such ewes as have been 
taught to avoid the poisonous growth show less inclina- 
tion than others to meddle with it. However, I cannot 
answer for the truth of this assertion. 



Digitized 



by Google 



50 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

There are several sorts of "poison" (as the colonial 
phrase always goes), but the three most common are, 
the " berry," the " box," and the " York-road " poison, the 
last so called from the quantity that grows on that high- 
way, and which makes the utmost watchfulness necessary 
on the part of the shepherds when sheep are driven upon 
it. I remember that on one occasion eighty sheep out 
of one flock died of " poison " upon the York-road, in a 
journey of only forty miles ; and a neighbour of ours lost 
seventy-four sheep upon his own run in the course of one 
fortnight. The "box" poison (one of the Oastrcddbrum 
tribe, I believe) takes its name from a fancied resemblance 
between the pernicious shrub and the well-known box- 
tree; and the "berry" poison receives its distinctive title 
on account of the vast quantities of berries that the 
plant produces. 

The talent for discrimination possessed by pigs in 
" what to eat, drink, and avoid," enables them to lead, as 
it were, a charmed life amidst these baleful herbs ; in the 
words of a native, whom I questioned on the subject, 
" pig smell poison." Neither are horses, speaking gene-; 
rally, affected by the plant, the exceptional cases being 
so few that they may be considered to prove the rule. 
On the other hand, cows are frequent victims, and I can 
recall an instance of eleven cows, the property of one 
person, being all fatally poisoned whilst grazing together 
on the same spot. 

We had left the sheep under their acacia-tree some two 
miles behind us, when the scenery became more diversified. 
The ground now undulated considerably, and a great 
many white gum-trees, of fantastic shapes, grew on the 



Digitized 



by Google 



FOBEST SCENERY. 51 

high banks and in the valley below us. The forest had 

never really ceased since we left Perth, but it had twice 

assumed a change in character, and was now exhibiting a 

third. The first part of our way, with the exception of 

the sand plains, had been bordered almost exclusively 

trith mahoganies, which by degrees became fewer, leaving 

red gum-trees predominant ; and these latter, with their 

rough and rusty-coloured bark, were now in their turn 

giving place to another kind of eucalyptics, white and 

ghost-like, and as smooth as though they had been scraped 

on purpose, or deprived of their bark for the tanner. In 

fact, on seeing these bark-shedding trees for the first 

time, a young friend of mine supposed that they had been 

actually subjected to some kind of artificial treatment 

Probably an Australian aboriginal, suddenly introduced 

to a European forest in its winter condition, would equally 

think that the trees had been expressly stripped of their 

leaves. The white trunks of some of the trees were so 

much flecked with dark-brown spots as to remind me of a 

panther's coat ; and just at this part of our road I saw a 

lizard spotted brown and white, precisely in the same 

manner as the trees ; I therefore concluded that it was of 

a sort that lived amongst them, and was shielded by its 

colour from the notice both of its enemies and of its own 

prey. 

On reaching the top of a rather steep ascent called Cut 
Hill, we came in view of a bold mountain-shaped ridge 
running towards the north-east, and swelling upwards 
from the wide forest plain which stretched away before 
us into the distance. Mount Bakewell, as the highest 
part of the ridge is named, appeared to me of much the 



Digitized 



by Google 



52 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA, 

same elevation as the Worcestershire Beacon ; but here 
the resemblance ceased, both the mount itself and the 
whole line of hills being thickly wooded, which the 
Malvern Hills are not. A turn in our descent of Cut 
Hill brought in sight the ridge of Mount Douraking, of 
somewhat lower height than Moimt Bakewell, though of 
a shape more wild and craggy, the top being surmounted 
by tall trees, which had struggled up amongst heaps of 
broken granite, and forced their way through the abrupt 
stony slopes wherever they could find a footing. On per- 
ceiving shortly afterwards one or two small houses in the 
valley, and a round building with a peaked roof, out of 
which rose a weathercock, I thought that we must be ap- 
proaching a village of some kind, and my driver informed 
me that we had at length reached Barladong. How to find 
our own house now became my diflSculty, less on account of 
the number of the dwellings than because there appeared 
to be nobody of whom to ask a question. On the other 
hand, in accordance with the dignity of a town that ranks 
third in the colony, there was no deficiency of public 
edifices, for, on proceeding a little way farther, we beheld 
five or six built of red brick, and all placed at wide 
intervals from one another, as if in hopes of inducing 
people to fill up the gaps with private houses. 

None of the buildings, however, made any pretence 
to the picturesque, excepting the round one with the 
weathercock, which I afterwards heard had been erected 
as a windmill by an American, possibly after some hazy 
model preserved in his youthful recollections of the many 
old Dutch-patterned structures in his own land. Mean- 
while a pitiless January stm was beating down upon us. 



Digitized 



by Google 



ARBIVAL AT BARLABONO. 53 

and our state of perplexity was presently increased by 
arriving at a point where two ways meet. We turned to 
the left at a venture, and were soon relieved by the wel- 
come apparition of a man in a helmet-hat standing in 
front of a little store. Our driver's request that the 
stranger would point out the way to the "Protestant 
church " seemed to me a vague mode of seeking for in- 
formation ; but, owing perhaps to the number of Irish 
that have settled in Western Australia, the word Protestant 
is generally accepted there as a synonym of the Church 
of England, and I even found that a dog, who habitually 
followed his master to church, had received the com- 
plimentary name of "the Protestant" in consequence. 
Being properly directed by our helmeted friend, to whom 
the form of my driver's question was apparently quite 
natural, we went on towards a wooden bridge which 
crossed a tributary of the Swan, called the Avon, upon 
which Barladong is situated. The great length and 
height of the bridge told a tale of heavy floods, but the 
river was in its summer condition, and, except in one spot, 
where there lay a narrow pool of still water, the timbers 
spanned only brushwood and sand. The centre piers 
must have been very nearly 30 feet high ; nevertheless, I 
learned that the stream had overflowed the handrail of 
the bridge only two winters before. 

Halfway across the bridge we met my husband coming 
out to meet us, fearing that we had been detained by 
some disaster. He turned back with us, and we passed a 
few detached houses, and an open space of ground which 
had been laid out years ago for a street, to part of which 
the bush was once more asserting its right On one side 



Digitized 



by Google 



54 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

of the long bare thorougbfare stood a red brick church 
(or more correctly speaking, the nave of one), which 
looked as if it had originally been intended to contain 
four or five hundred people. A blank arch constructed in 
the east wall gave token that the amateur designers had 
contemplated the addition of a chancel at some future 
date, to which the arch, when opened, would have formed 
the entrance. Apparently no sufficient increase of popu- 
lation had yet occurred to render this expansion of size 
advisable, neither had the tower, evidently required to 
complete the west end, yet been built, so that the nave 
stood alone, bearing a painful resemblance to a bam. 
There was not even a bell-gable to break the uniformity 
of the roof; but the congregation was called together by 
the ringing of a bell which hung in a tall gum-tree in the 
churchyard. 

The parsonage was not far from the church, £ind stood 
in the middle of its own glebe field of nine acres, sur- 
rounded by straight rows of split posts and rails, after 
the hedgeless fashion of Australia, There seemed to be 
no regular entrance-gate into the field ; but we found our 
way in by taking a couple of movable rails out of the 
notches made in two of the posts to facilitate their 
removal This awkward contrivance is called a "slip 
rail," and is universally resorted to in all cases where the 
absence of carpenters of sufficient skill to manufacture 
proper gates renders some such substitute necessary. Such 
houses "over the hills" as are approached by neat and 
well-made gates gain almost as much importance from 
the fact as would, in England, be conferred by the pos- 
session of an entrance-lodge. 



Digitized 



by Google 



DESCRIPTION OF PARSONAGE. 55 

We now entered our future residence, which was built 
somewhat upon the model of an Indian bungalow, being 
low and long and thickly thatched, and surrounded on all 
four sides by a verandah, formed by the continuation of 
the roof itself, until its eaves came to within seven feet 
of the ground. The rooms were but four in number, 
standing side by side in the same straight line, and all 
opening both into one another and into the verandah 
outside, so that no room had less than two doors, while 
the two middle rooms had of course three each. Advan- 
tage had been taken of the verandah to add a little more 
accommodation to the very small house, in the shape of 
four little chambers, each eight feet square, contrived at 
its four external comers by a rough continuation of the 
walls of the house. These little closets or cells were 
intended for pantry, larder, and so forth, but the addition 
of a door and window to two of them rendered it possible 
to introduce a small camp bedstead and one chair, in 
case an extra sleeping room was required. 

The walls of the house were built of "pug," which 
means simply well-poimded mud, and has the disadvan- 
tage of refusing to adhere firmly to the frames of doors 
and casements, so that the banging of either, in windy 
weather, is apt to bring large pieces of the material 
crumbling down, and the house never looks tidy. J\Iore- 
over, as we soon foimd out, no matter how neatly these 
walls may be finished by the plasterer, to paper them 
properly is all but impossible. The strongest paste in the 
deftest hands will not always suffice to cement the paper 
80 firmly as that it and the wall shall not soon show signs 
of parting company, and in one of our rooms we could 



Digitized 



by Google 



56 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

only keep the paper from falling forwards by nailing a 
strip of tape tightly along the edge close under the 
ceiling. The ceilings, when there are any to these mud 
houses, are made of strong unbleached calico, and, on 
account of the ventilation that it admits, a calico ceiling 
is much pleasanter than one of plaster in a warm climate. 
On rough nights, however, the wind that finds its way 
beneath the rafters keeps drawing up and down the cotton 
ceiling in sudden gusts> and if the fastenings of your 
canopy are not very artfully contrived, one end or other 
of it is sure to give way after a time, and hang dependent 
in a melancholy manner. Our sitting and sleeping rooms 
were all ceiled with calico, but the kitchen was open up 
to the thatched rafters, and, by way of compensation for 
the undraped condition of these, both rafters and thatch 
were festooned with hanging nests of puddled clay, look- 
ing somewhat as if they belonged to a colony of swallows^ 
The proprietors, however, were not birds, but of the race 
of mason-hornet, properly called a sphex; and as they 
had a fancy for building their nests exactly over our heads, 
it was well for us that only one of the clay tenements ever 
fell down, which it did one day with a sounding crash 
upon an empty tray upon the kitchen table. 

After glancing my eyes around me for a few moments 
after my arrival, I should have been truly glad if some 
one had had the forethought to light the kitchen fire, 
and provide a kettle of hot water for tea ; but on looking 
at the hearth I saw that all was as bare as Mother 
Hubbard's cupboard, and when I turned quickly to an old 
man in charge of the house, who was wandering about in 
his shirt sleeves, and asked "Where's the firewood?" 



Digitized 



by Google 



UNPACKING. 67 

his only reply was a slow hoarse whisper ^of " Welcome 
to Barladong." The person who thus greeted me was an 
exceedingly deaf old clerk and sexton who had once been 
a soldier, and was now one of the numerous pensioners 
that have been drafted off to Western Australia to serve,, 
in place of regular troops, as a protection to the colonists 
in case of outbreaks from the convicts. He had lost his 
hearing in a manner singular enough, from a fall down a 
hatchway during rough weather at sea, and would perhaps 
have lost his life at the same time if his head had not 
come in collision with another man's foot, which while 
breaking the fall was itself broken by the blow. 

Having succeeded at last in making the poor old 
fellow understand what I wanted, he commenced lights 
ing the fire with an alacrity which bespoke the sincerity 
of the welcome that he had given me ; but just at that 
moment a wagon appeared with our goods from Perth, 
and we postponed all thoughts of tea until we should 
have finished unpacking, for the driver confessed to an 
overturn upon the road, and we wished to know the worst 
at once, expecting to find every frangible article broken. 
Things were not so bad as we feared, and even my wal- 
nut whatnot, which was brought piecemeal out of the 
wagon, had fortunately come asunder at its original join- 
ings only. Meanwhile anxiety as to the fate of other 
movables proved as good a stimulant to me as the tea 
which I had hoped for, and, tired as I had been an hour 
before, I now continued helping my husband to arrange 
our house imtU ten o'clock at night, when we both went 
to bed thoroughly weary. 

We were not destined to enjoy a long repose, for we 



Digitized 



by Google 



58 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA, 

were aroused in less than an hour by a rapping at the 
front door, which turned out to be a messenger to say- 
that the old sexton had been taken ill, and that his wife 
wanted the parson to come immediately to see him. My 
husband got up, and went at once with the messenger, 
but he did not remain away very long ; he found the old 
man in bed, and complaining of cramp and spasms, for 
which his wife looked upon brandy as the only useful 
remedy, and begged very hard for some for him. This 
was clearly her only motive for sending for the parson ; 
but my husband desired one of the company to return 
with him, to be furnished with a strong mustard plaster 
instead, about which he felt sure that there would be no 
crying of halves, nor any attempt to dispute the patient's 
sole enjoyment of it, and so came away, leaving the rest 
of the women around the sick bed looking very blank at 
the failure of their first endeavour to hoodwink the new- 
comer. We did not, however, believe that the poor old 
man had anything to do with the plot upon the spirit 
bottle, as he was really suflFering. Once more we were 
falling into sound sleep when we were awakened by the 
most dismal wailings imaginable, shrieked out, apparently, 
by some creature just over the roof. It was a flock of 
curlews on their way to the river, but until I became used 
to the cry, as I did in time from its frequency, it impressed 
me with such a sense of melancholy that I could not feel 
surprised when I heard a native speak of them as " Jingy 
birds," that is, Satan's birds, Jin^ being the name of the 
evil spirit, the only divinity confessed to in the poor 
native Australian's creed. 



Digitized 



by Google 



SETTLING IN A NEW HOUSE. 59 



CHAPTEE IV. 

Description of Parsonage Houae — Multiplicity of doors — Verandahs the 
only passage from room to room — Difficulty in procuring necessary 
fittings — First visit to a country store — Beauty of natiye mahogany 
flooring if properly kept — Pensioners and wives — Convict depots in 
country districts — Depot at Ilarladong — Clocks and cocks — Climate 
in summer — Favourite riding-horse — Visits from the natives — 
Appearance and character of Khourabene — Difficulties as to dress — 
Habits of exchanging all things with each other — Native's duties 
towards strangers — Love of dogs among the natives — Behaviour to 
the women — Matrimonial quarrel near Parsonage — "Bollia" men, 
or conjurors — Cruel custom of avenging a death — Native grave — 
Natives very trustworthy as messengers — Ned sent to carry letter — 
His behariour to his wife — Pepper-tea and sham poisoning — Use of 
grease and fat on the skin — Old Isaac's amusement at a lady's 
riding-hat — Bed earth or Wilghee used as ornament — Native dandy 
dressing himself for a dance — Khourabene's suit of mourning. 

After a good night's rest we commenced a thorough 
examination of our new premises, in order that we might 
arrange the house in the most comfortable manner. It 
would at first seem that, as we had but four rooms to 
puzzle over, it ought not to have given us much trouble 
to decide which should be kitchen, which parlour, and 
which sleeping apartments. Matters, however, are not so 
simple as might naturally be expected when the interior 
arrangements of a rough colonial house are in question, 
since so many points must be considered which could 
never occur in England. First, the floors ; are they wood, 
mud, or brick ? In our house we had specimens of all 
three kinds. Next comes the question of aspect ; will the 
afternoon sun find too much entrance, so as to make the 



Digitized 



by Google 



60 SKETCHES IN WESTERN A USTRALIA. 

room overpoweringly hot? Then as to the number of 
doors in the room ; if it is to be a bed-room, will it be a 
necessary passage room to any of the others ? All these 
things must be carefully considered before coming to a 
decision, or else perpetual discomfort will be sure to 
follow. 

Our four rooms all opened into one another, and into 
the verandah also, as I have already noticed, and there 
were no passages whatever inside the house. The kitchen 
was paved roughly with brick, and we were at first much 
puzzled to conceive what good purpose could be served by 
a strange red-brick enclosure, about seven feet square, and 
open at top, which filled up one of its comers. On inquiry 
we discovered that it was meant for a maid-servant's 
bed-room. 

At the opposite end of the house there was one good- 
sized room, which had always been used as the sitting- 
room, and between it and the kitchen were two narrow 
rooms opening into each other, and into tlie verandah as 
well, so that in one of them there were three, and in the 
other four doors, though some of them were glass doors 
doing duty for windows. It was thus not an easy matter 
to decide whether it would be better to sacrifice appear- 
ance to comfort by taking the one large room for our bed- 
room, and contriving two little sitting-rooms out of what 
were in reality narrow thoroughfares, or whether we 
should follow the example of our predecessors by retain- 
ing the spacious apartment for our parlour, and making 
shift with one of the uncomfortable rooms for our dormi- 
tory. We decided upon the former plan, which secnred 
to us a most cheerful and pleasant sleeping-room, and we 



Digitized 



by Google 



A RIVER IN SUMMER. 61 

also managed^ by means of a few alterations, to make a 
pretty little sitting-room out of the chamber next the 
kitchen, though its brick floor was always a nuisance, as 
it cut our Indian matting to pieces almost as fast as it 
was laid down. 

As the rooms all faced east and west, we were ex- 
posed to the full blaze of the afternoon sun, as soon 
as it was low enough for its beams to pass under the 
verandah, which was at about three o'clock. Blinds were 
therefore articles of immediate necessity, and I resolved 
to lose no time in going to one of the stores to procure 
them. The stores lay on the side of the river which was 
opposite to us ; but during the dry season we were under 
no necessity of crossing the bridge. Our nearest way at 
that time of year was over the bed of the Avon, which 
even when dry has its own peculiar beauties, though they 
differ from those of river scenery at home. There are 
nooks shaded by the paper bark, and wide grassy spots, 
with permanent water holes intervening, around which 
the cattle lovo to congregate during the mid-day heat. 
Some of the pools are mere duck-ponds ; others are fine 
stretches of water, haK a mile in length and very deep, 
and these are generally contained between steep banks 
covered with brushwood and topped by high trees, which 
cast the reflections of their long arms over the smooth 
placid water beneath. Again perhaps the river bed will 
widen, and its banks will become lower, and you may 
come to large sandy tracts v\hich, a few months before, 
were covered by the winter floods, but are now so dry 
and bare that cricketers select them as convenient spots 
for the purpose of playing out a match. 



Digitized 



by Google 



62 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

The store which we now entered was the first which 
I had seen " over the hills," and was a good average 
specimen of similar emporiums in the country districts. 
On one side of the sliop, where the grocery was sold, there 
stood a heavy weighing-machine and a tub of salt fish ; 
crockery, gown-pieces, paraffin lamps, and woollen goods 
were ranged on the shelves ; boots, reaping-hooks, coats, 
kettles, hanks of twine, and common tin-ware dangled 
from the rafters ; camp-ovens and iron saucepans lumbered 
the floor ; and under a glass-case was a dowdy little col- 
lection of millinery and fancy goods, the last worthy of 
their name only from the prices which were attached to 
them, whilst as to the millinery, I may here say in 
parenthesis, that I never saw any, even in the best colonial 
stores, which looked as if it could have come from any 
quarter more fashionable than the Edgware Road. 

Of books there was a shelf containing eleven copies 
of M. Thiers' ' History of the French Eevolution,' bought 
by the store-keeper in a "job lot," and originally pub- 
lished at ten shillings, but now offered for sale at one 
guinea apiece. This, however, might have inspired us 
with the encouraging thought that the colonists were so 
fond of reading that they were ready to pay any price 
for books ; but we were damped by finding that whereas 
M. Thiers' works were only ticketed at twice their value, 
the cost of many necessary articles of daily use was fixed 
at a still higher rate. 

But the mysteries of stores and store-keeping in Wes- 
tern Australia were not to be fathomed in a single visit ; 
they were such as could only be revealed by time accom- 
panied with dear-bought experience. I found that it was 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 



EOUSE'FITTINOS. 63 

an easier matter to purchase my blinds than to decide in 
what manner they could be hung up with advantage. Of 
oonrse my natural instincts led me to hope for wooden 
rollers and side cords, but I soon found that I must mo- 
derate my desires, and content myself with such contri* 
vances as could be devised by my own ingenuity. Some 
of my neighbours nailed the blinds to the window frame, 
pinning them up when not in use; others suspended them 
curtain-wise upon a string; but rollers and cord were 
luxuries as seldom seen " over the hills " as gates, and it 
was the same with other kinds of " house fittings.'* 

Lord Mansfield, who objected to bells on the ground 
that it was a servant's duty " to wait," would have found 
no bells to object to, nor any servants with leisure to stand 
expectant ; casements were fastened with wooden buttons, 
for bolts were not furnished by the stores, and in the 
poorer sort of houses the windows were not glazed, but 
consisted simply of a wooden frame on which was stretched 
strong calico. All these little roughnesses were, however, 
more than compensated by the superb beauty of the cli- 
mate, which, taken together with the primitive appearance 
of our carpetless dwelling, conveyed the impression to the 
mind of perpetually living in a gwden-house for the sum- 
mer season. 

I found that those residences, of which the superiority 
was attested by a good entrance-gate, were generally 
dignified in addition by containing one carpeted room, 
but carpets were less in keeping with the summer's heat 
than matting, and oil-cloth was better than either in the 
wet season, when people were apt to bring in the mud 
of the roads upon their boots. There is, however, no 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 

/ 



64 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

question that the native mahogany, with which rooms are 
always boarded in Swan Eiver, if they are so fortunate as 
to be boarded at all, would be the handsomest flooring of 
any, provided that it was kept bright with constant rub- 
bing. The colonists would probably take fright at the 
idea of the labour involved in keeping up a polished floor, 
but if the French fashion of fastening brushes to the feet 
of the floor cleaner was adopted, all difficulties would be 
obviated. 

On one of our floors we pursued the plan of polishing 
the mahogany with beeswax, and the eflfect resembled 
that of the finest old dark oak. I soon discovered that 
tlie practice wfiis unusual, by observing the extreme 
interest with which one of my visitors regarded its 
results; and her explanation that the polished boards 
" reminded her of Windsor Castle," sounded to us as the 
best instance that we had ever heard of lucu9 a non lueendo. 
But absurd as it seemed to us, there was reason for what 
she said. As a child she had lived in the town of Wind- 
sor, and until that moment she had never seen a bright 
floor since certain ii*'ell-remembered peeps that she had 
had of the apartments in the Castle, in virtue of the 
employment that her father had held as one of George 
the Third's domestics. Windsor traditions were still 
dear to her, and one of her Australian-bom children had 
been christened Amelia, in memory of the old king's 
fftvourite daughter. 

I, We had now taken sufficient time to " turn ourselves 
round," as the old phrase goes, within doors, and we 
next proceeded to apply the same gyratory process to 
our outward premises, though what connection seK-rota- 



Digitized 



\ 



by Google 



GARDEN AND OUT-BUILDING 8. 65 

tion should have with the endeavour to settle down in 
a new home, I could never understand, in spite of the 
antiquity of the expression. The garden was naturally 
our first object of interest, and I found that it was 
much indebted to its original clerical possessor, who had 
planted it with a number of pomegranates and fig-trees. 
Also, no doubt in the laudable desire of planting the 
British flag upon a foreign shore, he had planned the 
beds and walks of his flower garden in the form of a 
Union Jack ; but though I trust that I am not a bad sub* 
ject, I must own that I felt less obliged to him for the 
flower beds than for the fruit trees, as the national ensign 
took up a much larger space of ground than my own 
pair of hands could ever hope to keep neat. 

Our vineyard had been, most unfortunately, placed on 
a bit of the stiffest clay which the garden afforded, whilst 
plenty of sand, in which vines would have flourished, lay 
comparatively idle in our glebe-field close adjoining. As 
to out-buildings, we were very badly off. There was 
neither pig-stye, cow-house, nor poultry-yard, and the 
only apology for a stable was a remnant of an old shed 
open to every shower which might fall. It was clear 
that we should have to supply all these deficiencies at 
oup own cost, but before commencing operations we 
determined that we would give a look at our neighbours* 
premises, and learn in what manner farm-buildings might 
be inexpensively erected. The nearest models in our 
immediate vicinity were found in the little farm-yards 
belonging to some of the pensioners to whom I have 
already referred. These men have been employed as 
guards in the convict ships, and, on their arrival, have 



Digitized 



by Google 



66 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

received grants of land and other advantages ; but it is 
well known that soldiers are not famous as colonists, 
and amongst the many pensioners who lived near us, 
only two or three, whose wives were exceptional patterns 
of industry and thrift, could give us any counsel in our 
farming, or had been able to make any profit out of 
their own. The yoiinger and still able-bodied pen- 
sioners who compose what is called the "Force," are 
envied by the older and less useful men on account of 
the extra pay which they receive whilst thus enrolled. 
In return for this additional stipend, the members of the 
"Force" must hold themselves in readiness to assist in 
all emergencies, such as extinguishing fires upon Govern^ 
ment property, re-capturing runaway prisoners, mounting 
guard at the several gaols, and the like services. Between 
pensioners and convicts existed a very rancorous feeling, 
originating no doubt in the relative positions occupied by 
the two classes on board ship; the convicts protesting 
that the pensioners were quite as bad as themselves, only 
that they had not been found out, an assertion no ways 
weakened by the drunken habits in which some of the old 
soldiers were apt to indulge, and by the very low cha- 
racter of the women that many of them had married. 

The convict depot from which our little town derived 
its chief importance, was situated in the close vicinity of 
the pensioners' houses. At irregular intervals throughout 
the colony dep6ts of this kind are scattered, to which 
convicts are drafted after serving a portion of their sen- 
tence in the Fremantle gaol. On being thus transferred 
from the gaol to the depot, convicts, who are then " pro- 
bation prisoners," are distributed in gangs to work upon 



Digitized 



by Google 



connricT depot. 67 

Ae roads of the district in which the dep6t is situated. 
Beside furnishing menders of the highway, the depots 
supply the place of " mops '* or " statutes " for the hiring 
of &rm labourers, and also serve as register offices for 
servants and tutors, according to the exigencies of the 
colonists, and the professed capacity of those prisoners 
who are entitled to their ticket-of-leava 

No one would have supposed from the exterior of our 
convict depot at Barladong, that its inmates were under 
any sort of restraint, and, contrary to ordinary precedent 
in Government work, the architect appeared to have 
beCTi strongly imbued with the idea of saving space and 
husbanding brick and mortar. Low white railings sur- 
rounded the enclosure instead of high spiked walls, and 
an oulrhouse that looked like a large lock-up coach- 
house, and which stood open in the day, was the convicts' 
common hall and dormitory. The warders* quarters were 
as miserably cramped as if the bit of desert on which 
they stood had been rated at a London ground-rent, and 
the discovery that a district hospital was wanted had 
resulted in the appropriation for that purpose of an old 
kitchen, in which apartment both bond and free alike 
received benefit, but in less degree than would have been 
ecmferred on them by larger space and better ventilation. 
The depot bell, however, was a public boon without aUoy. 
It swung firom a tall slender gallows in the middle of 
the white-railed yard, and being rung several times a 
day at stated hours, was as good as a church clock to 
those who heard it, few of whom had any other way of 
reckoning time. 

Clocks were not only scarce, but in no great request ; 



Digitized 



by Google 



68 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

those which were supplied by the colonial stores soon 
ceasing to "go," and subsiding with such rapidity into 
their secondary purpose of chimney ornaments, that I 
sometimes doubted whether the clockmakers had not re- 
garded it as the primary one. Thus it came about that 
on Sundays those people in the bush who lived beyond 
hearing of the dep6t bell, not unfrequently foimd them- 
selves either half an hour too late or too early for 
church, as the case might be, and for a child to " know 
the clock " was rather a mark of superior intelligence. 

A grown-up girl once called at our door to ask the 
time; I referred her to our clock for her own satisfaction, 
at which slie cast a glance as hopeless as that with which 
she might have regarded some mysterious mathematical 
instrument, and professed herself in no way the better in- 
formed. The incoAyenience that resulted from the dearth 
or the decrepitude of timepieces appeared to have been 
taken into consideration by the cocks, for they crowed 
vociferously precisely one hour before midnight, and 
again at two in the morning; on the last occasion without 
any reference to dawn in the sky, for the sun did not 
rise till nearly five o'clock upon the longest day. This 
peculiarity of the domestic fowl is mentioned in most de- 
scriptions of Australia, but in none that I have ever read 
has any notice been taken of the extreme regularity with 
which the crowing occurs at certain fixed hours. 

I must now beg the reader to suppose us comfortably 
settled in our new home, or at least as comfortably as it 
Tfd^ possible for us to make ourselves in a district where 
so many of the minor conveniences of life were unpro- 
curable. We had erected three wooden buildings, to serve 



Digitized 



by Google 



RIDES IN THE BUSH. 69 

«8 stable, pig-stye, and hen-roost, and had thatched them 
with rushes which a neighbour allowed us to cut from the 
" blackboys " on his run* Our horse and cow were bought, 
and we had been presented with two pigs, and a cock and 
hen. We had also obtained some insight into the condi- 
tion and habits of the neighbourhood, so that we felt our- 
selyes at home and at our ease, and able to form a fairly 
just opinion as to all that went on aroimd us. 

As this little sketch does not pretend to be a journal, 
or to be written in chronological order, but merely to give 
an account of such things as would be likely to interest 
those whose home has always been in England, I shall 
make no apology for the somewhat desultory nature of 
the following pages, in which I prefer to give the results 
of our entire experience of the colony, rather than to 
detail the gradual process by which our acquaintance 
with West Australia and its inhabitants was ultimately 
obtained. Perhaps some account of our intercourse with 
the natives may be of interest to those who have never 
met with the wild man in his own land ; and I may be 
pardoned if I give a somewhat diflFuse history of our 
earlier intercourse with the tribe belonging to our imme- 
diate district, as we met them either 'in our rides about 
the busily or when they paid us a visit at our own home. 

At first we had thought that it would be impossible for 
us to ride or drive during the full heat of the day, and 
we had marvelled at the impunity with which our more 
distant neighbours were able to brave the sim when they 
rode up to our door at two or three o'clock in the after- 
noon. A very short experience, however, was suflScient to 
teach us that the clear dry air and exhilarating breezes, 



Digitized 



by Google 



70 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTBALIA. 

which are the almost invariable adjuncts of the summer 
of Western Australia, temper the fierce sunbeams 80 
greatly, to anyone in rapid motion, as to render a ride 
through the bush, eyen when the glass is at 9(P in the 
shade, by no means disagreeable. A young friend most 
kindly lent me her favourite riding-horse ; it was a lovely 
grey metre named * Mercy,' and many a charming forest 
ride did I enjoy upon her back. When quite a young 
foal the poor little creature's dam had been killed by an 
accident, upon which my friend's brother had expressed 
the opinion that " it would be a mercy to shoot the poor 
thing." His sister, however, thought that it would be a 
greater mercy if she could manage to keep it alive, and in 
spite of fraternal sarcasms she proceeded, like Mr. Chick in 
* Dombey and Son,' to try whether " something temporary 
could not be done with a teapot " to supply immediate 
wants, whilst trusting to the hope that care and kindness 
would eventually succeed in rearing the young animaL 
Whether its kind nurse " took it from the month," or 
whether more than four weeks had elapsed since its birth, 
I know not ; at all events her pains were well rewarded, 
for the singularly named * Mercy ' grew up into one of 
the most delightful lady's horses possible, full of spirit 
and life, and yet not too eager, and as smooth as a rock- 
ing-horse in all its paces. 

I have been often asked, since returning to England, 
whether the Australian native is not the lowest member 
of the human family — its shabbiest and least creditable 
relation; and my questioners generally seemed to have 
made up their minds beforehand that such was certainly 
the case, let my answer be what it might. Even the 



Digitized 



by Google 



NATIVES. 71 

quickness of the poor native's senses is often brought for- 
ward against him, as though he were something less than 
a man, because his acuteness of observation and keenness 
of sight reach a perfection that we are accustomed to 
consider as the birthright of the inferior wnimalty alone. 
Bom, however, in a country that is devoid of indigenous 
fruits or grains fit for man's use, the native's existence has 
depended not on the cultivation of the soil, but on that 
of his five senses ; and that he should see like a hawk and 
track like a bloodhound, or should resemble the bee in 
his power of steering a direct course through pathless 
forests, are the natural results of that cultivation, just as 
the excessive delicacy of touch possessed by the hands of 
blind persons results irom the constant exercise of their 
sense of feeling. But granting that the lowest condition 
of mankind is to be found on the great island-continent, I 
can yet assure Europeans that they have no reason to feel 
ashamed of owning afiSnity with the savages of Australia 
West, either in respect of mental qualities or that of 
manly appearance. The kangaroo mantle, nearly reach- 
ing the knee, hangs gracefully over their fine figures ; the 
uncovered head is carried loftily, and a dignity is added 
to the high, well-shaped forehead by the binding of a fillet 
round the hair and brow, after the fashion of an antique 
bust* 

The curiosity that is felt with regard to "natives" 
dates, probably, with most persons, from their first read- 
ing of Robinson Crusoe ; and Mr. Darwin, who, from what 
he says in his * Naturalist's Voyage,' appears to have been 
by no means a good sailor, considers the opportunity of 
seeing man in his savage state as a complete counter- 



Digitized 



by Google 



72 SKETCHES IN WESTEBN A USTRALIA. 

balance to the trials and inconyeniences of sea sickness. 
We, on the other hand, had looked forward to the sight 
of wild men as the very crowning point of a much-enjoyed 
voyage ; nor did the objects of our curiosity keep us long 
in suspense, being apparently as anxious to see what we 
were like, as we were to make their acquaintance. 

After we had been settled at Barladong about a fort- 
night the natives began to pay us frequent visits. We 
had learned the names of several individuals, but had 
formed no especial friendships, when one morning a shadow 
fell across our window, and on looking up to ascertain the 
cause, we saw a stranger standing in a calm, easy attitude, 
surveying us from two brilliant eyes, with an expression 
of pleasure mingled with curiosity. His jet-black hair 
wfiis bound with a fillet in the mode that I have described, 
and his features were somewhat of the Malay type ; his 
complexion decidedly black, but not the sooty hue of the 
negro. Cast over his left shoulder, and brought beneath 
the opposite arm, hung his mantle of kangaroo skin, the 
fur worn inside, securely fastened with a long wooden pin 
like a skewer, whilst in one of his hands, which were small 
and well-shaped, he held lightly a bundle of slender spears^ 
six or seven feet in length. A twisted string of opossum 
fur, in which was stuck his tobacco pipe, was wound several 
times round the upper part of his bare muscular arm, and 
his cheeks were painted with a red earth, as a lady puts on 
rouge. It seemed that he was come to make a call of 
ceremony upon us as bis new neighbours, and not being 
furnished with a card to send in first, he affably became 
his own introducer, saying, " I Mister Khourabene — you 
gentleman fellow — ^I gentleman fellow — I come see you." 



Digitized 



by Google 



KHOURABENirS LIVERT. 78 

Perhaps what struck us most in his maimer was the com- 
plete taking for granted that he and ourselves were upon 
precisely the same social level ; an idea which we were 
fidn to accept in a complimentary sense, such being evi- 
dently the intention of our visitor. He appeared to find us 
congenial, for after this introduction, his visits to us were 
constantly repeated whenever he was in the neighbourhood, 
and as the liking was mutual, and experience had proved 
him to be thoroughly trustworthy, we habitually employed 
him about our house in preference to any of his relations. 
The native figure and complexion are much set off by 
dress, and as Khourabene often frequented the parsonage 
for weeks together, we wished to give him the benefit of 
bright-coloured clothes which should do justice to his 
lithe well-knit shape. My husband therefore dressed 
him in a dark-blue jersey and a pair of white trousers, 
and E^hourabene was delighted with the eflfect; but at 
the end of two days both trousers and jersey had disap- 
peared, and a grave silence was all that we could extract 
from our friend on the subject. We dressed him again, 
but without more permanent results ; in fact, he seemed 
to wear our livery no longer than until an opportunity 
should occur for exchanging or giving it away. In his 
native kangaroo mantle he looked the gentleman savage ; 
in shirt and trousers he had the air of a neat trim black 
servant; but when left to himself, and allowed to ex- 
change his good clothes for the old rags in which the first 
native he might meet happened to be arrayed (an ex- 
change which their habits forbade him to decline), he 
looked as if got up for a scare-crow. Bottled beer had 
no doubt something to do with the disappearance of the 



Digitized 



by Google 



74 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

jersey, which was quite good enough to have excited a 
white man's envy ; but we found that the natives have a 
law amongst themselves, so stringently compelling them 
to share their individual possessions with each other, that 
no one appears long to retain personal ownership of any 
present that has been made to hinu 

It is scarcely possible to imagine a stronger exemplifi- 
cation of that community of goods which distinguished 
the early Christian church, when "neither said any of 
them that aught of the things which he possessed was 
his own," than exists amongst these savages, only with 
this difference, that the self-abnegation instead of being 
voluntary is produced by compulsion. If, for instance, 
we gave food to a native whilst others of his tribe were 
hanging about the house, he considered that we doubled 
the favour by contriving an opportunity for him to eat 
unseen, as otherwise he must of necessity share his dinner 
with the lookers-on. This law is especially binding with 
respect to strangers of another tribe, with whom, if friend- 
liness is to be maintained, a native is bound to make an 
exchange of property however greatly to his own disad- 
vantage. The same article, therefore, is at different times 
owned by a great variety of persons, as a proof of which I 
may mention that during our residence in the colony an 
exploring party found a tin, which had once contained 
preserved meat, in possession of some natives who had 
never before seen a white man. 

All the better class of colonists in the bush have their 
favourite natives, who, in return for old clothes and food, 
which principally consists of flour, will consent to act as 
cleaners of pots and pans, as well as hewers of wood and 



Digitized 



by Google 



NATIVES ON A JOURNEY. 75 

drawers of water. More commonly still, the natives are 
employed in minding the sheep and lambs, an o£Sce for 
which they are no less fitted by their extraordinary habits 
of observation than by their quiet gentle manners and 
their inborn kindness to animals ; and when thus employed 
in the continuous care of a flock these qualities receive 
recognition in the shape of regular wages, though not 
in the same proportion as are paid to white men. Some- 
times a number of natives will remain many weeks near 
a homestead, assisting on the farm, and then, as if tired 
of being any longer in one spot, they will assume the 
important air of persons whose presence is required at a 
distance on urgent private aflfairs, and the whole party 
will disappear for a longer or shorter period. 

It is not to be supposed that people who have neither 
furniture nor wardrobe to speak of can be much troubled 
with luggage in flitting, but of such as there is the ladies 
are compelled to be the porters ; and what with bundles 
of flour and supernumerary fur mantles, one often meets 
the poor women bent almost double with their burdens, 
which they always carry on their backs. At all times an 
opossum-skin wallet between the shoulders, or under one 
arm, is an indispensable female appendage, where sits the 
baby if there is one, peeping out of the fur lining. The 
other children, generally quite naked, run beside the 
mother ; whilst the father of the family, his head thrown 
slightly back, and a few spears in his hand, paces leisurely 
along in front of the party with all the dignity of a king. 
A child is sometimes carried astride on its parent's 
shoulders. I once saw a youngster sitting thus, who 
steadi^ himself by clutching his mother's hair tightly 



Digitized 



by Google 



76 SKETCHES IN WESTEBN AUSTRALIA. 

with one hand whilst the other held a bone which he was 
very diligently gnawing. 

The rear of the wayfarers is oft^n brought up by several 
dogs, whose lean and bony appearance gives little token 
of the strong affection with which their masters really 
regard thenu The Australian dotes upon his dogs, and 
never destroys a puppy; but, nevertheless, he will not 
insult the high intelligence of his four-footed friends, by 
supposing that they are not equal to the task of finding 
their own living. The dogs are careful not to disappoint 
his good opinion of them, and prowl about at night like 
jackals, robbing all insecure larders, and even the vine- 
yards when grapes are in season. In hopes of abating 
this nuisance, the colonial authorities have established a 
dog-tax, which the white population pays, and which the 
natives for the most part elude altogether. 

No native ever encamps unless within easy reach of 
water, and if huts are wanted the women must build 
them. They are made of boughs, the roofs round- 
shaped, too low to stand upright in, with the entrance 
carefully turned away from the wind; and if the wind 
shifts in the night some one, again a lady I should pre- 
sume, has to get up to alter the position of the doorway. 
In front of each hut a fire is lighted, so that the feet of 
those who are sleeping within shall be kept warm ; and if 
a relation's death has lately occurred, an additional and 
solitary fire is lighted at a little distance from the^ huts, 
where the ghost of the deceased may sit and warm itself 
without disturbing the family hearth. Warmth is, in 
fact, so great a necessity to the native, that he seems to 
think that the dead can only by degrees become accus- 



Digitized 



by Google 



NATIVE WOMEN. 77 

tomed to the want of it, and the airing of a grave by 
kindling a fire within it is a very important ceremony at 
a fdneraL The same love of warmth creates an ayersion 
to early rising, and natives are seldom seen abro£id until 
tiie sun has been one or two hours above the horizon. 

In wet weather it is usual to carry in the hand, 
beneath the kangaroo skin, a piece of smouldering wood, 
which compensates in some sort for the want of a flannel 
waistcoat, and enables them to light a fire at a moment's 
notice. £hourabene also had a plan on cold nights of 
lying down, rolled up in his furs, upon the ashes of a 
raked-out fire. He explained to my husband, who once 
very nearly fell over him outside our house where he 
had tucked himself up in this manner for the night, that 
the advantage of thus going to bed was twofold, being 
no less good for warmth than for concealment, especially 
when passing the night in a strange place, where the 
keeping up of a fire after dark might attract the notice 
of unfriendly natives. Each tribe possesses a territory of 
its own, and each fiimily of the tribe has its own especial 
tract of land within that territory, together with the 
springs of water thereupon ; here he can light his fire 
and build his hut without fear of molestation ; it is in fact 
his paternal estate, so that the word " fire " conveys to 
an Australian the same meaning of fatherland or birth- 
place as the European idiom of " hearth," * and is used 
by the aborigines in the same sense. 

The Australian women are less good-looking than the 
men, partly perhaps because amongst a thick-lipped race 

* I am indebted for this information to Bishop Sal?ado's *Memorie 
8toriche dell* Australia.* 



Digitized 



by Google 



78 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

the possession of beard and moustaches is useful in con- 
cealing homely features, and also because the state of 
extreme subjection in which the women are kept by their 
husbands does not tend to beautify them. The poor 
drudges are seyerely beaten for the slightest fault, not 
to mention that they are sometimes, as a native expressed 
it to me, " little bit speared " ; but this I fancy is always 
with a view to reformation, as in case of capital offences 
it becomes the husband's duty to spear his wife so that 
death ensues. However, in a matrimonial quarrel that 
occurred close to our house, Khourabene, as third party, 
persuaded the husband to act in a manner both philo- 
sophical and conciliatory. A violent altercation had 
sprung up one night amongst a party of natives that 
were encamped near us, the dispute being followed with 
screams and yells such as only black women's lungs seem 
to have the secret of producing; and as these sounds 
were plainly accompanied by others that resembled the 
breaking of a stick, I called to Khourabene, who was 
eating his supper in the kitchen, and dispatched him in 
the direction of the uproar, with a message from ourselves 
that the discipline must be suspended. He started off at 
a nm, supper and beer in his hands (the tin pannikin, be 
it observed, was deep, and not over full), and the yells 
soon gave place to a loud talking, as if each individual in 
the company was giving a different version of the affiedr 
at one and the same moment. To this Babel succeeded 
a dead stillness, followed by the re-appearance of my 
ambassador, evidently much pleased with the result of 
his interference and the superior judgment which he had 
displayed. "Womany drunk," he said with an air of 



Digitized 



by Google 



AVENGING A DEATH. 79 

careless dignity ; ** I tell him let her vxmga '* (♦. e. talk) 
— " morning all right." 

Of leligion the natives appear to possess but the 
merest rudiments^ and no forms of worship whatever — 
unless their manner of propitiating the betd spirit Jingy 
can be considered such — though a &int type of a priest- 
hood may be found in the BoUia men, as those persons 
are called who pretend to know Jingy's manoeuvres on 
given occasions, and are continually ready to steal a 
march upon him. Khourabene had been a BoUia man, and 
for that very reason appeared to believe as little as might 
be iu the manifestations of Jingy as reported by the natives 
in general, such as frightening people in the bush as a 
bogy, — laying claim to the gum on certain trees which 
were pointed out to us, and knocking loudly in the night 
on the huts of natives who gathered it, — appearing in the 
likeness of a bird with long legs and a snout to a girl 
who went to drink at a pond after dark, whereby the 
said girl " berry near have a fit," — and so on ; but on one 
point, where Jingy throws ofif the mask, and shows him- 
self in his true colours as the " murderer from the begin- 
ning," the faith of our poor savage friend was implicit. 

A week after a native's death, his grave is visited by 
the Bdlia men, to discern whether Jingy's track can be 
foimd anywhere near it or on it ; and, in case it is pro- 
nounced visible, the nearest male relative of the dead 
must then wander away in search of a person of another 
tribe, whom he is necessitated to kill, that the departed 
soul may find rest The chief mourner is restless and ill 
at ease till this supposedly pious duty has been fulfilled ; 
after which, things drop into their ordinary course, and 



Digitized 



by Google 



80 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

the name of the dead is never more alluded to. It can 
therefore be easily conceived what distrust and suspicion 
is excited in the minds of the natives if a stranger is 
known to be hovering about their tribe. Khourab^ie 
described to me how, when his mother died, his father 
provided him and his little brothers with plenty of 
kangaroo meat, and then took his spears and ^' far away 
walk " to look for a woman to kill. To this cruel super- 
stition we attributed the deaths of two native children 
within a short distance of our own house, who, on different 
occasions, were speared by strangers who instantly after- 
wards took flight. The possibility of a like fate being 
in store for a little native girl named Biimahan, whom 
we took under our care on her loss of her mother, made 
us at all times feel that her life was more precarious than 
that of a white child. The custom of thus pacifying one 
soul by sending another to keep it company is believed 
by most persons to have originated in a desire to preserve 
an even balance of population amongst the tribes ; I have 
sometimes wondered whether it had a deeper root, and 
had sprung from the universal tradition of the necessity 
of sacrifices. 

A friend once took me to see a native's grave ; it was 
made in somewhat of a semicircular form, and on the 
day of the funeral had been covered, she said, with 
swansdown, of which when I visited the spot the wind 
had left no vestige. Green boughs are generally arched 
hutwise over the burial-place, which give it a pretty ap- 
pearance whilst the leaves continue fresh ; and even when 
the twigs and foliage are withered, the deserted mound 
impresses the mind of the beholder less painfully than does 



Digitized 



by Google 



CARRIERS OF " PAPER TALK:' 81 

the solitary grave of a Christian in unconsecrated ground. 
More melancholy objects of the kind can scarcely be 
imagined than two such graves which I have seen in 
different parts of the colony, each standing alone in a 
field, protected, it i^ true, with a railing, from being 
trodden on by cattle, or disturbed by the plough, but 
without any sacred emblem that should relieve the secu- 
lar character of the desolation. 

Though the natives often plagued us, lying about in 
the verandahs and asking us for all sorts of things which 
we did not choose to give them, yet, when we had seen 
none of them for any length of time, we missed their 
fun and frolic, and felt somewhat as people do whose 
children are gone to schooL Especially we regretted the 
loss of their willing feet, since they were always ready 
to act as messengers, and carriers of letters or "paper 
talk," as such missives are styled by the natives, in the 
safe conveyance of which they show great fidelity. 1 
never heard of letters being lost by any native to whom 
they had been entrusted, and if it should occur that a 
native with letters in his charge is prevented from con- 
tinuing his journey, he invariably passes them on to 
another of his tribe, who transmits them safely to the 
hands of the persons for whom ihey were intended. The 
value of such trustworthiness can be easily understood 
in a country thinly peopled, where the nearest post-office 
is often very far away. 

One morning of excessive heat it so happened that I 
commissioned a nephew of Khourabene's, named Ned, to 
carry a letter to the house of a colonist who lived eleven 
nules from Barladong. My courier was accompanied 



Digitized 



by Google 



82 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

by his wife, and I was much struck, when they set out, 
with the different styles of costume which the two had 
adopted for the journey. Ned was dressed very jauntily 
in nothing but a shirt drawn tightly to the waist with 
a belt, whereas the wife's attire might rather haye befitted 
an expedition towards the South pole. She was quite 
weighed down with a garment of new opossum fur, reach- 
ing from her shoulders to her feet, and her spirits seemed 
as heavy as her clothing. The next day we had a thunder^ 
storm, with pouring rain that lasted till the evening, 
when just after dark there came a tap at the window, 
accompanied by a very lamentable voice, which I re- 
cognized as belonging to Ned, He and his wife had 
brought me back an answer to my letter in spite of the 
bad weather, though she alone had tmy particular reason 
to complain of it, and of her, poor thing, one could hardly 
say that she was wet to the skin, as she had so very little 
on her excepting her skin to be wetted. Ned had 
changed clothes with her when the weather changed, 
by which I do not mean that he had given her his shirt, 
but rather that he had taken her fur ; and I could not 
help suspecting that his original motive in making her 
his travelling companion had been that she might act 
as a clothes-horse. Being invited into the kitchen, they 
forthwith sat down upon the hearth in front of the fire, 
and some pepper having accidentally been mixed with 
the tea which our servant made for them, Ned seized 
the occasion to raise his wife's spirits by feigning death 
in consequence. That such an event should be regarded 
by her with complacency, after his recent behaviour 
about the fur, was possibly a suggestion of his own con- 



Digitized 



by Google 



NATIVE LANGUAGE. 83 

science, and accordingly he fell back in a good stage 
attitude, crying out, "Pepper tea! I die! I poison!^ 
On this the poor half-drowned wife burst into a laugh, 
which was echoed by the defunct, and the two imme- 
diately became as merry as a couple of children. 

I took some pains to learn the native vocabulary, and 
was much interested at finding that the word "me-ul," 
signilying "an eye," which figures in the little list of 
words written down by Captain Cook from the lips of 
the savages that he met in New South Wales, was used 
in the same sense by our friends of Western Australia* 
I did not, however, attain to much proficiency in the 
study, and beyond an ostentatious display to Khoura- 
bene of any new word or phrase which I had picked up, 
was obliged to content myself with the conventional 
jargon which is universally adopted in speaking to the 
natives by all who are not really conversant with their 
language. This sort of hotch-potch is composed of native 
words largely mingled with English, and is better under- 
stood by the natives than plain English ; it consists also 
in getting rid of all prepositions, driving the verbs to 
the end of the sentence, and tacking on to them the 
syllable " um " as an ornamental finish wherever it sounds 
euphom'ous. Thus I heard Khourabene calling out one 
day, " Dog hollarum, water wantum "; implying that he 
thought our house-dog was whining with thirst. A 
large quantity of anything is expressed by the words 
** big-fellow," as "big-fellow-rain," "big-fellow fond of," 
but in showing pity or condolence " poor old fellow " is 
the received form, and is of such universal application 
that it is quite as suitable to a baby cutting its teeth, 



Digitized 



by Google 



8i SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

as to the moon suflfering from eclipse, a misfortune which 
is laid at Jingy'6 door, who is supposed to have put out 
the light maliciously by carrying oflf the moon's fat 
"Quiet fellow" and "sulky fellow" have an almost 
equally wide range, the first signifying any conceivable 
degree of amiability, either in man or beast, and the 
latter ferocity to a like extent. The words " get down," 
have been chosen as a synonym of the verb " to be," and 
the first question of a friendly native would be " Mammwi 
all right get down ? " meaning " is father quite well ? " 
for strange to say Mamman is the native word for 
" father," whilst N-angan or Oongan stands for " mother." 
The cry which is used by the natives to attract the 
attention of persons at a distance is expressed by the two 
syllables coo-ee, the sound of which, when long drawn out 
at a high pitch, is carried so far, that the early Dutch 
navigator who asserted that Tasman's Land was solely 
inhabited by " howling evil spirits," probably formed his 
opinion from hearing one native coo-ee to another on 
beholding the imusual apparition of a ship. However, 
if on this feict alone was based the old sailor's conclusion, 
a return in the flesh to take another coasting survey 
might result in his pronouncing the same opinion of the 
whole Australian continent, for the colonists have uni- 
versally adopted the natives' cochee whenever they desire 
to communicate with anyone at a distance, and have na 
means of doing so but by the voice. People who are 
lost in the bush, coo-ee for help, and their friends who are 
looking for them coo-^e for the chance of a reply. I have 
been even told of a man having brought home to London 
a colonial wife who, alarmed at being separated from her 



Digitized 



by Google 



NATIVE IDEAS OF CLEANLINESS. 85 

kusband by a crowd in Fleet Street, successfully hazarded 
a eoo-ee to let him know in what part of that thorough* 
fajre she was bewildered. 

The natiyes sing continually, but the use of musical 
instruments seemed unknown amongst them, and I ob- 
served that their songs were always in the minor key. 
Khourabene's songs were of a surprising length, consider- 
ing that he drew a deep breath at starting, and neither 
replenished his lungs nor brought his ditty to a con- 
clusion until the original stock of wind was thoroughly 
exhausted. There was one especial song which he crooned 
so often that at last I asked him to translate it for me ; 
but the words were not precisely of a sort to meet 
the approbation of the Society for the. Preservation of 
Aboriginal Eaces, neither did they tally with the experi- 
ence of the African traveller who wrote sentimental verses 
in praise of the kindness of women to the forlorn foreigner. 
Khourabene's song described the approach of a stranger, 
and the chorus was an urgent entreaty from the women 
that the men would lose no time in killing him. 

It must not be supposed that the natives are without a 
belief in personal cleanliness, but their notions on such 
matters are rather different to white people's opinions on 
the same subject. We were now and then asked for a 
piece of soap to wash an old cotton shirt which a native 
might have received as a present from a colonist ; but for 
the face and hands oil or grease is much preferred as a 
cleansing medium, and, on all occasions when full dress is 
indispensable, a native never thinks himself thoroughly 
eomine U/aut unless his whole body shines with oil from 
head to foot. A neighbour of ours told me of two natives 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 

A 



86 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

who presented themselves at her door to beg for grease, 
and who accounted for the dried-up condition of their 
legs, to which they ruefully pointed, by saying " in jail 
no grease get down " ; the poor fellows having just been 
liberated from prison, where the atthorities had failed to 
recognize unguents as a substitute for soap. I once found 
Khourabene sitting on the kitchen floor with his legs as 
far apart as those of the Colossus of Rhodes, while between 
them stood our black three-legged iron pot fall of the 
cooling liquor from which a boiled ham had been lately 
lifted, the surface of which, with an indescribable twinkle 
of satisfaction, he was employed in skimming for the pur- 
poses of pomatum. It was a less objectionable application 
for the hair than that which was selected by a little 
native girl, who, having been neatly dressed on her instal- 
lation as baby-carrier to a colonist's wife, emptied the 
contents of the lamp over her head immediately after- 
wards. 

There was an old fellow named Isaac whom the other 
natives treated with a good deal of deference as chief of 
the tribe, and whom I amused myself with fancying that 
Friday's father had perhaps resembled, whose legs, when 
he had bestowed a little polishing on them, looked like 
dark old Spanish mahogany. My first acquaintance with 
Isaac was at a neighbouring farm-house, where he had 
been busy all day in carrying water to the washing copper. 
I was amused to see how much he enjoyed the mug of tea 
which he was drinking beside the kitchen hearth, and I 
noticed also the splendour with which his legs had been 
polished up, as the plentiful supply of grease to be met 
with at such an abode had induced him to make his toilet 



Digitized 



by Google 



A NATIVE DANDY. 87 

directly his work was over. But the laugh was not all on 
my side. At sight of me he burst into a loud guflfaw, 
the cause of which was explained by his mistress, who 
said that I was the only woman whom Isaac had ever seen 
in a black beaver riding-hat, of the shape commonly 
called in the colony a " bell topper." Isaac was evidently 
an old beau, for his hair was freshly curled, and every 
rmglet shone with oiL Wrapped up to the chin in a very 
handsome jiem fur mantle, he continued to stare at me 
and my hat over the top of his saucer, and to chuckle 
merrily to himself while his mistress expatiated to us on his 
many merits, but especially on the fact of his being wife- 
less, emphatically impressing upon us the great superiority 
of unmarried natives as servants over those who had 
wives. The reason of this preference for celibate savages 
is that the native women are less patient of remaining 
long in any one spot than their lords, and, considering 
the circumstances of their lives, I confess that I do not 
wonder that they crave for frequent change of place. 
With no settled habitations to develop a love of home, 
and with no idea of laying up money for their children or 
for old age, it seems to me that only idiots or philosophers 
could long endure the sight of the same scenery, and not 
confess to a feeling of being " bored." 

One of the chief purposes for which the natives covet 
oil is that they may mix it with a red earth called 
mlffhee, which they use in painting themselves. The 
effect of this wUghee^ when applied to the cheeks alone, is 
far from unbecoming ; but wUghee, which enjoys the same 
favour as the blue woad once so fashionable in Britain, is 
not confined to the face, but is frequently worn as a com- 



Digitized 



by Google 



88 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

plete costume, and even the old shirts which are begged 
from the colonists are often smeared with it. 

Not long after I had afforded Isaac so much amuse- 
ment I foimd a young dandy seated on the dry 8«md of 
the river bed, holding a little gill-framed looking-glass 
the size of a crown-piece in one hand, whilst with the 
other he was putting the finishing touches to a general 
ivilffhee toilet, being then employed upon his face. A 
flask of salad oil stood beside him in the sand, and also a 
small box, like a pretence for a dressing-case, containing 
the red earth, with which he had so bedaubed himself from 
head to foot that his eyes alone retained their natural 
hue. To the extent permitted by his tiny mirror he 
appeared to be surveying himself as a work of art, which 
in a certain sense he was, for his hair was so thickly 
plastered with the red pigment, that every lock stood 
distinct and separate like the curls of a clay model. 

When a native family is "placed in mourning," as 
newspapers would say, wilghee is inadmissible, and the 
face must be either chalked or blackened. Khourabene 
being invited to attend the funeral of a cousin, came into 
our kitchen to dress for the occasion, and first oiling his 
hands well, proceeded to rub them on the back of the 
chimney, and then to rub his face with his hands. By 
this means he paid the deceased a kinsman's tribute of 
respect, and at the same time produced in his own appear- 
ance a change so startling and complete that it might 
have misled the keenest observer. In which sooty mask 
we will leave Khourabene for the present, and pa&s on to 
the consideration of other subjects. 



Digitized 



by Google 



A HOVSEHOLD TREASUBE. 89 



CHAPTEB V. 

A new servant — Make-shifts in cooking — Kaolin — Camp-ovens — A 
native " batch " — Variety of out-door premises — Nature of the 
Australian hard woods as fctel — Alarm of fire — Sandalwood and 
** stink- wood" as fuel — Trade in sandalwood — Licence for cutting 
wood in bush — Bush-fires — Sudden deafness caused by fright — 
Infant burnt — Beauty of bush-flowers, and want of any useful food — 
Great scarcity of edible roots in bush — Promise of dried fruits from 
vine, apricot, and other introduced trees — Oranges and lemons — 
Potatoes — Curious objection of settlers to efit spinach — Name of 
spinach growing wild — Dubbeltje — Origin of name — Pig-melons 
for apple-pies — Sugar-beer — Native brewing — Ned*s fear of bad 
Spirit soothed by sugar-beer. 

The domestic wlio had accompanied us from England 
having left us a few months after our arrival, we thought 
ourselves fortimate in obtaining the services of a rosy 
smiling girl, the daughter of a free settler in our own 
district, whose sweetness of temper and quickness of wit 
soon disposed us to believe either that colonial servants 
were much better than they had been represented, or 
else that we had happened to alight upon the exception 
that proved the rule as to their ineflSciency. 

Together with some amusing seafaring expressions 
which she had picked up from her father, who had been 
in the marines, Eosa had inherited a sailor's aptness at 
contrivances and a happy dexterity, which would have 
gained her much applause even within easy reach of all 
the conveniences of life, but which were qualities of price- 
less value in a country where to contrive and to " make 
shift" seemed the order of the day. The prospects, for 



Digitized 



by Google 



90 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

instance, of being able to cook a dinner for " all hands," 
as Kosa styled the family, had appeared to me, I must 
own, exceedingly dismal on the day that I first surveyed 
our colonial kitchen range. But Rosa msAe light of all 
difSculties, and under her tuition I soon acxjuired the 
habit of making our meagre stock of kitchen utensils 
supply all our wants. The range consisted simply of 
three long iron bars set in two short ones, the whole sup- 
ported upon four legs, which were no higher than just 
to leave room for logs of wood underneath. There was 
neither oven nor boiler, and the being compelled to trust 
to kettles and pans alone for all one's hot water, after 
having been ticcustomed to a good Leamington range at 
home, seemed like a coming down in life. Rosa, how- 
ever, soon proved to me that where there was a will there 
was always a way, and that by " capsizing " kettle after 
kettle into a large wooden tub even a warm bath might 
soon be obtained. Of fire-irons a little shovel was the 
only representative, tongs being of no use in lifting logs 
cut in four-foot lengths ; whilst the handle of a worn-out 
besom proved an eflBcient substitute for the time-honoured 
kitchen poker where there was nothing but wood embers 
to stir. The hearth and the sides of the wide open fire- 
place were composed of bricks, very roughly set, which 
Eosa kept scrupulously white with what she was pleased 
to call pipeclay, sometimes indulging her pictorial tastes 
by an after-embellishment of the snowy surface with a 
treUis-pattem traced in blue. Bosa's white pigment, of 
which she used to persuade Khourabene to bring her 
large lumps from time to time from the bush, would 
have fetched a high price in England, being in fact the 



Digitized 



by Google 



DRAWING AN OVEN 91 

fbest kaolin that a maiiufactiirer of porcelain could 
desire. The use of such a valuable article of commerce 
for a purpose for which lime would have answered equally 
weU, seemed to us rather inconsistent with the meanness 
of our kitchen furniture ; but a shilling bestowed upon 
a native would always ensure us a plentiful supply of 
kaolin, whilst lime was so utterly wanting in a circle of 
many miles around, that the Grovemment had offered a 
re\rard of forty pounds for its discovery. 

We used to roast our meat in a Dutch oven set upon 
the hearth, and our pies and bread were baked upon 
the bars of the grate in camp-ovens, which are round 
flat-bottomed pots standing on three short legs, and 
with lids so contrived as to retain the hot embers with 
which they are heaped. When the cookery within 
requires inspection the lid and the embers have to be 
lifted off simultaneously, which is done by pushing a 
stick through the handle at the top, for of course there 
. is no possibility of touching the lid with one's fingers. 
These iron contrivances being heavy to lift up and 
down, and a woman's skirts being exposed to much 
danger from fire when moving them, are used only in 
default of brick or clay ovens, which most people 
possess, and which are generally placed outside the 
house at a little distance. In one of these large brick 
ovens, belonging to a neighbour of ours, a native woman 
was found one morning snugly coiled up and fast asleep, 
having evidently passed the night there. 1 need not 
say, that on the discovery of this unexpected "batch" 
the oven was very speedily " drawn," but as it was less 
easy to deprive the intruder of the good night's rest that 



Digitized 



by Google 



92 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

she had already enjoyed than it was to dislodge her, she 
walked off to a certain extent victorious. It was not 
only the ovens that were usually placed apart from the 
dwelling ; more often than not the kitchen itself was an 
isolated building, called a cooking-house ; and this had 
been, I fancy, in some cases the original tenement, re- 
tained for culinary purposes alone as the femily increased 
and its circumstances improved. In such cases it was 
easier to build an entirely new house than to add on to 
the first structure, though the arrangement reminded one 
of the plan which was adopted by the travelling showman 
and his wife, who when their caravan, in the form of a 
teapot on wheels, became too small for their increasing 
family, but admitted of no enlargement, supplemented it 
by a second caravan shaped like a coffee-pot, and thus 
secured a fresh feature of attraction for their show, as 
well as sufficient accommodation. 

The best instance of this adding of house to house that we 
ever saw was in the dwelling-place belonging to a friend of . 
ours, whose home looked like the nucleus of a small toAvn. 
His entrance-hall, parlour, and best bed-room were in one 
house, the family slept in another, and their n^eals were 
cooked in a third. In many households it is a common 
practice to keep a convict as cook, and for the ladies to 
do the housemaid's work, yet the evils of fatigue and heat 
appeared to me more endurable than the presence of a 
convict as an indoor servant in our small establishment ; 
for however well such a man may cook, and however good 
his behaviour in general may be, he is certain to get 
dnmk occasionally, and, if granted a holiday, is probably 
being led to the lock-up at the hour when he ought tp 



Digitized 



by Google 



CONVICT QARDENER.^FUEL. 93 

have been returning home again at night. There was one 
man whom we foimd so handy about a house that we had 
haK a mind to make an exception in his favour, and, as a 
sort of preparatory trial, we employed him for a fort- 
night's digging in the garden, but in the middle of the 
work, and just as the ground was in good condition after 
the rains, he took himseK ofif on a drinking bout for three 
days, during which the sun's heat greatly increased in 
strength and so dried up the soil that the proper time for 
gardening was in great part lost. I asked him, when he 
was sober, how he could behave so foolishly, upon which 
he first favoured me with a few moral reflections upon 
want of strength of mind, and concluded with telling me, 
almost in so many words, that if he did not get drunk 
sometimes he should lose his own identity. 

Through my ignorance of the qualities of the hard 
woods of Australia, I had anticipated much trouble and 
annoyance from being obliged to cook without coal ; but 
when I had once learned the right manner of using the 
great logs of close, hard-grained timber, I gave them the 
preference over all other sorts of fueL The heat thrown 
out is tremendous, and the logs, especially those from 
the tree known as the York gum, will be found alight 
on the under side hours after the fire is supposed to 
have been extinguished. Long hollow pieces of wood 
are often brought in for the fire, and these it is as well to 
handle cautiously, as snakes are now and then discovered 
inside them. We, however, were never so unfortunate as 
thus to meet with a snake, though in stripping oflf rough 
bark from the logs I have brought to light very large 
centipedes. There is a good deal of danger in leaving 



Digitized 



by Google 



94 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

these hollow logs on the hearth after the household has 
gone to bed, for they bum pertinaciously in consequence 
of their chimney-like character, and my husband once 
found the kitchen quite lighted up in the middle of the 
night by the flames that were bursting from each end of 
one of them, on which, before retiring to rest, I had 
poured a quantity of water, and thus left it, as I sup- 
posed, in a state incapable of mischiefl 

Our house was thatched with the rushes of the Xan- 
thorrhoea, or blackboy, which are so inflammable, owing 
to the resin which they contain, that the greatest precau* 
tions against any risk of fire must be taken in all cases 
where they are thus used, especially during the great heat 
of the summer. Hoofs of this resinous description will burn 
with extreme rapidity, and in the event of a fire breaking 
out beneath them, it is useless to attempt to save any- 
thing but life. The frequent sweeping of all chimneys is 
therefore absolutely requisite, and in consequence of onr 
having not only neglected this precaution, but also piled 
up an unusually large fire on one chilly evening, we were 
suddenly roused from our books by a loud roaring noise, 
of which it was impossible to mistake the meaning. My 
husband ran out of doors to ascertain the extent of the 
danger, and finding that the whole garden was visible by 
the light of the flames from the chimney-top, he at onoe 
concluded that our house was doomed. His alarm was 
but of a few seconds' duration — a column of steam, pro- 
ducing instantaneously a most consolatory darkness, rose 
upwards from the chimney, and, amazed no less than 
relieved, he re-entered the sitting-room to find the fire 
out, and the hearth flooded. The truth was that I, not 



Digitized 



by Google 



SANDAL AND ** STINK"* WOODS. 95 

knowing exactly what to do, but with a general impression 
tiiat water was good in all eases of fire, had flung the eon« 
tents of a large pitcher over the burning logs, and had 
thus, by the sudden production of a cloud of steam, caused 
the happy and unlooked-for phenomenon. After this 
fright it is perhaps needless to add that thenceforth our 
chimneys were swept with the greatest regularity. 

To continue my subject of fires and fuel : if a piece of 
sandalwood i^ thrown upon the hearth, the perfume is 
ahnost overpowering and apt to cause severe headache ; 
and on the other hand, the burning of even a small bit of 
the tree commonly called " stink-wood " will make the in- 
mates of a room fly out of it, to avoid the terrible odour. 

Sandalwood is, as I have already said, one of the chief 

exports of the colony, and it is often the practice to store 

the logs in large heaps in the forest until a convenient 

opportunity for carting it to Perth or Guildford shall 

occur. An accimiulation of this kind belonging to one 

of our friends, which had reached the value of a himdred 

poitods, was entirely consumed in a bush-fire shortly 

before we left Western Australia. Anyone is at liberty 

to carry away fuel from the bush, provided it be dead or 

fallen wood ; but to cut growing timber requires a licence 

of ten shillings per month. The quantities of dead trees 

scattered all over the bush are enormous, and when 

allowed, as is sometimes the case, to lie on the ground 

near a habitation of the better class, they are very dis* 

figuring to an English eye, though, generally speaking, 

the colonists leave no trees, living or dead, standing in 

immediate proximity to their houses. This custom, which 

at first I deplored as involving a wilful disregard of thf* 



Digitized 



by Google 



96 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AV STB ALIA, 

picturesque, I soon learned to be a sad necessity, on 
account of the prevalence of bush-fires. Through these 
many a man has been burned out of house and home, 
whilst the dwellings of other individuals have been only 
saved by a providential changing of the wind just as all 
hope had appeared lost. 

An anecdote which was told me, in connection with a 
bush-fire, may be interesting to physiologists. A lady 
happening to be alone in the house with her young 
children, became alarmed at finding that a bush-fire was 
making rapid strides in the direction of her homestead. 
The plan which is ordinarily pursued on such occasions^is 
to beat out the fire with branches of trees, as it advances 
along the low grass, and to continue doing so in spite of 
fatigue, as long as there is a chance of extinguishing the 
flames. To do this with any hope of success a large body 
of men is required, but a woman, single-handed, could 
effect nothing, and the danger appeared imminent, when 
two gentlemen, who had seen the approach of the fire 
and were aware of her lonely condition, rode up, and 
rescued her and her family. Being released from her 
anxiety, she found herself almost stone deaf, and has so 
continued ever since. 

Bush-fires are variously accounted for by different peo- 
ple, some inclining to the idea that the sun, striking upon 
the thick glass at the bottom of some of the many broken 
bottles which lie about the bush, acts upon them as if 
they were burning-glasses and sets the grass alight ; other 
persons, who probably do not smoke, assert that many 
fires are caused by those who do ; and as a third theory, 
^H has been suggested that the friction of two boughs, 



Digitized 



by Google 



BUSE-FIRES. 97 

chafing against each other in the wind during extremely 
hot weather, will evolve sufficient heat to produce flame. 
A fourth, and perhaps the most common cause of these 
conflagrations, may be found in those fires which every 
one, black or white, lights if he happens to rest for a few 
hours, or for the night, in the bush. It is, indeed, for- 
bidden, under a penalty, to leave such fires burning when 
resuming the journey, but the law is very often disobeyed, 
and great nodschief sometimes follows such neglect, es- 
pecially in the summer. The sight of a traveller's fire, 
forsaken but still smouldering, would often set me think- 
ing of the poor old people whom we had known m far-off 
English villages, shivering for want of fuel, whilst here 
lay such an abundance of it going to waste. As a set-off 
to my regrets on this account, there was nothing un- 
common in our being asked to help poor families who 
had lost everything that they possessed through the 
destruction of their huts by bush-fires. 

On one occasion, shortly before we came to the colony, 
a woman had gone to the well at a little distance from 
her hut to fetch water for ordinary household purposes ; 
leaving her baby, which had been baptized that very 
morning, sleeping quietly in its cradle, whilst no one else 
was in the house. Having filled her pails she returned 
towards her home, and, on coming within sight of it, 
beheld the thatched roof in a blaze, and not a hope left 
of saving the poor little innocent, which was destroyed in 
a few moments. 

A recent bush-fire imp£ui;s a peculiarly sombre look to 
the iron-rust colour of the red gum and mahogany trees, 
but, as time passes on, the gloomy appearance of their stems 

H 



Digitized 



by Google 



98 SKETCHES IN WESTERN A USTRALIA. 

disappears, and the scene becomes one of romantic wildness. 
The exterior of those hoUoW trees from which the bark haa 
been burnt off for years looks abnost white in contrast to 
their blackened interiors scooped out by the flames ; and 
I have seen a tall,^ pale stem, denuded of branches and 
standing like a gigantic stake, to which the fire had giyen 
so fine a point as to suggest the notion that to drop upon 
it from a balloon would be anything but desirable. 

But amidst scenery in which the eye finds so much 
of interest and attraction one looks in vain for any fruit- 
bearing trees, or indeed for anything that is eatable. The 
land is essentially a land of flowers, and myriads of lovely 
plants overrun the ground which are the ornaments of 
our conservatories at home. To mention two species 
familiar to all gardeners: we have gathered all kinds 
of blue lobelias, and also a plant closely resembling the 
scarlet variety as well, and we have seen the sloping sides 
of the water-courses thickly covered with the favourite 
Oioaeia armata in full bloom; but such useless beauty 
mocks hungry people who have lost themselves in the 
bush, and I well remember the disgust with which a 
poor woman spoke of having seen ^'nothing but great 
yellow flowers " during several hours that she had spent 
in walking up and down trying to regain the beaten track 
from which she had wandered. The only wild fruit that 
I ever heard of was the native cherry ; a frruit almost 
entirely composed of a hard kernel the size of a marble, 
with a thin outside rind that has an acid taste, and of 
which the colonists make a sweetmeat in defEiult of any- 
thing better. The stone is buff-c(doured, and much 
corrugated, and when a good many of them are stnmg 



Digitized 



by Google 



NATIVE ESCULENTS. 99 

together, and alternated with the nuts of the sandalwood 
tree, they make a pretty row of beads, a purpose for which 
nature seems to have intended them« 

The scarlet seed-pods of the Zamia plants are decidedly 

poisonous unless buried underground for a fortnight, by 

which means they become hamdess eating, and, as such, 

are th^i consumed by the natives ; but the process would 

little benefit a starving person to whom the necessity <rf 

burying his dinner for fourteen days before he could eat 

it might be only too suggestive of what he himself would 

be fit for by the time his meal was ready. Our little 

native girl Binnahan once dug up for me a root about 

two inches long which did not taste amiss, and at another 

time she brought me a stalk which she begged me to try, 

rec<Hnmending it with the words " black fellow eatum — 

l»g-fellow glad findum," but she seemed rather injured 

at the faint praise that I bestowed on its insipid though 

not nauseous flavour. A colonial lady also showed me a 

plant with a glutinous leaf somewhat resembling the haK- 

hardy annual called fnezembryanthemum, of which she told 

me she had sometimes made puddings, but that they were 

not very tempting. With the exception of the acacia 

seeds, which the natives were in the habit of pounding 

into meal before they learned to prefer flour, I have now 

named every indigenous esculent brought to my notice, 

and I do not think that the table which the whole of 

them could ^'furnish forth" would be considered by a 

vegetarian as an inducement to emigrate. 

If due attention, however, is paid to ^situation and to 
fioily imported fruits and vegetables appear to find Western 
Australia as congenial as the lands to which they severally 



Digitized 



by Google 



100 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

belong. Vines will grow well wherever they are planted, 
and the wine which they produce, though as yet neither 
cheap nor particularly good, is far more agreeable and 
wholesome than most of the liquid that is sold in the 
colony under the name of port or sherry. There is, there- 
fore, no doubt that the quality of the colonial wines will 
improve at the same pace as the experience and edu- 
cation of the vine-growers. 

It was usual to see raisins laid to dry upon the roofs 
of the houses, or upon tables set out of doors, for the 
multitude of birds prevented the adoption of the better 
plan of leaving the fruit to dry upon the trees, after first 
twisting the stalk of each bunch so as to hinder the pas- 
sing of the sap. It seems reasonable to suppose that, at 
some future day, both currants and raisins will be ex- 
ported from Western Australia, but before that comes 
to pass, their price in the colony must have diminished 
considerably. The price of raisins in the Barladong 
stores was a shilling the pound, and currants were only 
twopence cheaper. Oranges and lemons came to great 
perfection in the swampy and fine alluvial soils around 
Perth and Guildford, but no amount of cultivation could 
induce them to bear fruit on our side of the Darling 
Bange, and at Barladong the price of oranges, when in 
season, was threepence each, a mortifying contrast, for the 
buyer, to their English value. 

The same frosts which prevented the ripening of 
oranges with us, were destructive to any early crops of 
the potato. The early spring potatoes were always 
nipped, and the hot weather returned too soon to leave 
time for the growth of a second crop. Whilst our 



Digitized 



by Google 



*" DOUBLE GEE.'' 101 

neighbours on the sea-coast were rejoicing in vegetables 
of all kinds, we of the ultramontane districts sometimes 
paid siicteen shillings the bag for potatoes so diminutive 
that at home they would have been picked out to boil for 
pigs. In one of our rides we came across a poor man who 
had established a potato ground in a bit of swamp, and 
who succeeded in securing a good early crop for sale, by 
ingeniously lighting large fires at night on the windward 
dde of his garden. The experiment was facilitated by the 
loneliness of the situation, which might have rejoiced the 
heart of a hermit, but a warming apparatus of this kind 
could not of course become one of universal application. 

We were, however, much elated by discovering that 
the finest kind of prickly-seeded spinach grew spontane- 
ously as a weed in our glebe, and in most of the fields 
around us, during a few weeks of the winter. Our 
pleasure at finding the spinach was equalled by the 
surprise which we felt at the ignorance that prevailed 
amongst our neighbours respecting its qualities as a 
vegetable, one only amongst them seeming to be aware 
of its excellence. Neither, with exception of this en- 
lightened person, did anyone appear to know the name 
of spinach as an Australian product, and the plant was 
spoken of with opprobrium as " that horrid double gee." 
When we asked how it came into the colony we were 
told that it was a Cape plant, and the riddle of its seem- 
ingly unmeaning name was solved to our satisfaction by 
my husband accidentally reading of a Dutch coin called 
DubbeUje* having an edge so very sharply indented that 

* On refeniDg to a Dutch dictionary we found Dxibbeltje given as an old 
word for a twopenny-piece, the modem name of which is Duhbelde ttuycer. 



Digitized 



by Google 



102 SKETCHES IN WESTEBN AUSTBALIA. 

quarrelsome Dutchmen sometimes gave one another verj 
awkward wounds with it. Whether the plant had 
received its name at the Cape, or had carried it there 
from Holland, I know not, but it appeared to haye been 
brought into Swan Biver with no other appellation ; and 
the dislike with which the colonists regarded it was not 
quite without foundation, as the extreme sharpness of its 
seeds was troublesome in a country where to go barefoot 
is a common practice. I remember seeing a poor bare- 
footed child, who had but lately come to Barladong, and 
who had been sent to our house on an errand, standing 
midway in our field, crying with all her might, and 
refusing to stir another step forwards ^ because of the 
double gees.'* The rapid and wide diffusion of the plant 
has been no doubt due to the manner in which the spines 
of the seeds stick to the fleeces of the sheep, like burrs 
which they much resemble. We did our best to persuade 
our neighbours to give the spinach a place on their 
tables, but, with the exception of a very fewlpersons, the 
prejudice against it as a troublesome weed was too old 
and deep to be exploded by our example. 

Though neither oranges nor potatoes took kindly to 
the climate of fiarladong its apricots were unriyalled, 
and the fruit upon our standard trees was far finer than 
any that we had ever seen produced even by scientific 
care on garden walls in England. Apricots were less 
cultivated than they deserved, for the reason, perhaps, 
that few persons knew much more of the right method of 
pruning them than one of our friends did, who carefolly 
cut out all the bearing wood, and then wondered that he 
had no fruit. Standard peach-trees were much in favour, 



Digitized 



by Google 



PEACHES AND APSIC0T8. 103 

but as a rule their fruit was not so good as that which is 
produced from wall-trained peach-trees in England. In 
one colonial garden we found a fruit that was new to us, 
in which, though two kinds were united, yet each was 
in perfection — ^to wit, a completely-formed sweet almond, 
CQ(yered outwardly not with its own insipid green rind, 
but with the ripened pulp of a full-flavoured peach. 
The tree that bore this dual crop was a solitary specimen. 
As to the seasons when our different fruits came in, — the 
figs ripened in the end of November, apricots at Christ- 
mas, grapes in January, and peaches in February. The 
grapes lasted until the end of February, and as the peaches 
were then over also, there followed a fast from fruit through 
many months, during which the common English jams 
were much prized, and expensive in proportion. I soon 
ceased to feel surprised that the colonial ladies should 
exp^id time and sugar in producing such a poor preserve 
as that made from green grapes. 

The composition of a puddiug was so vexed a question 
in the dearth of materials, that a neighbour who depre- 
cated my contempt for grape jam did ^ nothing exagge- 
rate** in asserting as a good reason for making it, that 
^ half the year round one scarcely knew what to set upon 
the dinner-table,*' that is, as second course. Under these 
circumstances we had recourse to a large field-melon, 
called the pig or cattle melon, which, in spite of its 
natural insipidity, produced, when largely helped out 
with vin^ar and sugar and baked under a crust, an 
imitation by no means despicable of apple-pie. 

An immigrant girl who had been telling me that her 
admirer was ^ crazed for her at first sight," adduced in 



Digitized 



by Google 



104 SKETCHES IN WESTERN A USTBALIA. 

proof of his condition that her acquaintance with him had 
begun by his throwing a pig-melon at her, and that he 
continued to throw more melons whenever she entered 
the field where he was at work. As a missive expressive 
of affection I should have thought a cannon-ball had 
been quite as sentimental ; but the girl's experiences of 
courtship showed me that the throwing of cucumbers 
and vegetable marrows over the garden wall by Mrs. 
Nickleby's insane lover was more true to nature than I 
had supposed. 

I believe that when Englishmen are totally deprived 
of beer their friends will readily admit the case to be one 
that excuses grumbling and demands condolence ; in 
order therefore to avoid both, we now set about brewing a 
supply of beer with coarse sugar. Not that we should 
not greatly have preferred malt, if we could have had it, 
but, with a view perhaps of keeping up the prices of 
bottled beer, which in the country stores is commonly 
sold at twenty-four shillings the dozen, malt is not 
generally made in the colony, and if beer is brewed in 
private houses at all, it is of sugar, mostly of the very 
cheap sort procured from India. I did indeed hear of 
one colonist who had, in very early days, manufactured 
malt for his own use, but as he had also gone the lengths 
of making a tank to collect the rain-water, and, further, 
of drawing it up by means of an iron pump, he was then 
too much in advance of his age to find imitators. 

As a substitute for malt we found that good Lisbon 
sugar answered better than the coarser kinds, which not 
only spoil the flavour of the beer, but throw up such a 
quantity of scum as to make the use of them no economy. 



Digitized 



by Google 



SUOAB-BEER. 105 

The method of brewing is to put the sugar into boiling 
water in the proportion of a pound to a gallon, and when 
the scum has well risen and has been thoroughly cleared 
off, to throw in as many ounces of hops as there are pounds 
of sugar, and then to boil the whole for a fall hour longer. 
The liquor is afterwards poured into coolers, and should 
be worked with yeast according to the good old rule 
"when the brewer can see distinctly the reflection of his 
own face in the wort." Like its prototype small beer, 
sugar-beer ought to " see a Sunday," but in hot weather 
it is often drunk at the end of four days, whether Sunday 
has intervened or not. The natives are so fond of any- 
thing sweet, that they consider an empty sugar bag a 
valuable prize, and, when fortunate enough to obtain one, 
they soak it in a tub of water, and all sit round the tub 
drinking the mixture in great sociability : they are not, 
however, lucky enough to get such a prize often, for so 
much sugar adheres to the matting of which the bags are 
made that some saving people always boil the bag up with 
the mash when th^y brew, by which process I can hardly 
imagjne that they improve the taste of their beer. 

Hoea used often to enlist Khourabene's services in 
brewing, on which occasions he always lighted a fire out 
of doors, and, making an extempore little grate of bricks, 
with two pieces of iron hooping laid across them as bars 
for the copper to rest upon, he would diligently skim the 
sugar, and constantly stir the hops that they should not 
boil over. The fact of thus helping to brew seemed, as 
he thought, to give him a vested interest in afterwards 
drinking the beer, and he seldom appeared in the kitchen 
without reminding us of his assistance. I was lying down 



Digitized 



by Google 



106 SKETCHES IN WESTERN A USTBALIA, 

one day, bathing my head which was aching, when Khon- 
rabene, whose bare feet never at any time gave notice of 
his approach, put his head in at my window, and resting 
his arms on the sill, said in a voice of great condolence, 
" Poor old mother — ^poor old mother '* ; then with a slight 
change of tone added, " I cleanum fowl-house — ^I wheelum 
barrow — ^I givum horses hay — little bit of beer, if you 
please." On another occasion Ned, who was leaving our 
house in the dusk of the evening, expressed himself as 
troubled with apprehensions of " Jingy." I could not at 
first make out what it was that he professed to dread, and, 
not altogether understanding what he was talking about, 
I told him to go. Upon this he explained; "Devil 
frighten, missis — give me beer, and then I anywhere 
walk!" I laughed at his fears and told him that I had 
no dread of Jingy or of any other walker of the night, but 
he treated my assumption of courage with 'great con- 
tempt, reminding me that I was safe at home, whereas he 
was obliged to go out into the darkness. 

There is no doubt that in this case Ned exaggerated 
his fears in the hope that he might be allowed to drown 
them in beer, but for all that, it is a real and fixed article 
of belief in the native mind that Jingy walks the bush at 
night. Even the most intelligent of the aborigines will 
assert that at some time or other of their lives they have 
seen him, but as each apparition of Jingy of which we 
heard wore a different form, he either was the Australian 
Proteus, or depended solely on the imagination of his 
beholders for his bodily shape. 



Digitized 



by Google 



DRAWBACKS TO PB0QBES8. 107 



CHAPTER VI. 

Drawbttola to ivrogreas of West Australia — '^ Dangerous'' country — Mr. 
BmmmoQd identifes poisonous plants — Land when infested by them 
useless tot pastoral purposes — Eril partly remediable — Intelligence 
required in shepherds — Impossibility on many roads of employing 
bullook-wagons -r Scattered nature of cultivated districts — Narrow 
news of things in general — Difficulty of introducing tramways or 
railroads — Grain-bearing eastern districts — Railroad anxiously de- 
manded — Oan be formed only by Government funds — Different 
interests amongst the colonists — Want of means of locomotion — 
Monotony of colonial life — Seasons in Southern hemisphere — Sunday 
Lessons seem inappropriate — Hot weather at Christmas — Trouble 
of cooking — St Thomas seems out of place at Midsummer — An old- 
fkahicmed Christmas — Excitement caused by oow — Khourabene 
makes a weU- timed visit — Boils plum-pudding — Khourabene's old 
master — Servants' wages pcdd in live-stock — Temporary prosperity 
of oolony — Beminisoences of hard-work and poverty -> Listening 
lor eoaoh-wheels — Grinding flour by hand — Colonial-made steam- 
engine ~ Weddings and ^* traps " — More luxuries and less comfort — 
Shepherds and March-winds — Gin in the sheepfold — Shepherdesses 
-^ Spears in thatch — Poisoned sheep — Bringing home pigs — Gen- 
tleness necessary in tending sheep ~ Anecdote of little swineherd. 

One of the peculiarities which has militated against the 
onward progress of Western Australia is the scattered 
character of its various settled districts, caused by the 
large interrals of sterile or dangerous country by which 
the tracts of good land are frequently separated from one 
another. By the word ^Mangerous/' I mean those parts 
of the country on which the poisonous plants, which have 
proved so severe a drawback to the prosperity of the 
ool<myy exist in such profusion as to render the land 
unsafe to sheep or cattle. 

"When the country was first settled the colonists were 






Digitized 



by Google 



108 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

unable to distinguish the poisonous plants from the 
harmless ones ; their sheep and cattle died, and it was 
evident that the losses were caused by injurious food of 
some description; but several years elapsed, and much 
careful inquiry was needed, before the true authors of the 
mischief could be identified. The settlers owe a debt of 
gratitude to the late Mr. Drummond, the well-known 
colonial botanist, for his careful researches and accurate 
experiments by which the injurious plants were at length 
discovered, and the -best means of destroying them were 
pointed out. 

The most deadly of these plants are of the ffostralobrum 
tribe, and in cases where a large extent of country is 
infested by them the land is useless for all pastoral pur- 
poses. Horses do not seem to suffer, though, as I have 
already said, a few cases are on record in which they too 
have perished from feeding upon the " poison," the term 
always used in the colony to express the existence of any 
or all of these deleterious plants. " There is poison upon 
that run '* — " the sheep have been among the poison " — 
and similar expressions are constantly in use. K, how- 
ever, the " poison " is not prevalent over the whole extent 
of the country, but only scattered thinly over certain 
parts of it, it is possible to extirpate it in the course of 
two or three years by care and watchfulness, while, in the 
meantime, an intelligent shepherd may succeed in pre- 
venting his flock from frequenting the dangerous parts of 
the run. 

In other cases, where the plants are confined to a few 
localities only, but too plentiful on those spots to allow of 
total eradication, the evil may be partly combated by 



Digitized 



by Google 



POISONOUS PLANTS. 109 

fencing out the sheep and cattle from such places, usually 
small hills, and thus rendering the rest of the land safe 
and profitable. But it is useless to attempt tasks of this 
nature, which require not only an energetic employer but 
also intelligent and careful servants, until a far larger 
supply of respectable free labour than has yet found its 
way to Swan Eiver can be introduced. The lazy London 
pickpocket or housebreaker may do well enough for a 
shepherd or hut-keeper upon the plains of Victoria or 
New South Wales, but amongst the forests of West 
Australia he is worse than useless. Hence the constant 
cry from the settlers to their friends in England, " above 
all things send us out respectable intelligent shepherds." 

Another evil has arisen from the existence of these 
poisonous plants; namely, that the internal circulation 
of the colony has been impeded by the risk involved in 
driving herds of cattle or flocks of sheep from one district 
to another So great is this danger, in some parts of the 
country, that the Government has been obliged to employ 
a large force of convicts to grub up the poisonous plants 
for a distance of a hundred yards on each side of some 
of the main roads, in order to provide a strip of land over 
which the animals may be driven with some approach to 
security, though even with this precaution it is necessary 
to hurry them over the journey at a quicker rate than is 
good for them in order to prevent them from straying out 
of the prepared belt of land. 

It is well known that in many parts of Australia bul- 
locks are preferred to horses for dragging the heavy drays 
loaded with wool from the country stations to the capital. 
This method of conveying heavy goods is forbidden to 



Digitized 



by Google 



110 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA, 

many districts of West Australia, owing to the prevalence 
of " poison " npon most of the roads — another proof, w^e 
more proof wanting, of the serious injury which these 
plants have done to the colony. But besides these 
obstacles to the internal communication between the 
different districts, there are also others arising &om the 
existence of large tracts which are too sterile to repay 
cultivation, or too deficient in water to be of any use as 
sheep or cattle runs. 

I have already mentioned the large extent of forest 
through which we passed on our journey from Perth to 
the eastern districts, and the completely wild character 
of the whole of the road, with the exception of the 
country immediately around Guildford. This is but a 
type of the general character of the whole colony, and of 
the distances by which the settled portions of its territory 
are divided from one another. The consequence is that 
each cleared and cultivated district becomes, as it were, 
an oasis in the midst of the general desert, only that the 
desert is not always a stony arid waste, but is often 
covered with magnificent forests of timber, whilst even its 
sand plains are for three months in the year brilliant 
with the most beautifiil flowers. 

This wide separation of most of the settled districts 
from one another has been the source of many disad- 
vantages. It has led to a cramped and narrow manner 
of regarding the general interests of the whole colony, 
since each settlement has naturally fallen into the habit 
of looking at its own interests and its own wishes in the 
first place, without much reflection as to the general wel- 
fare of the whole country. 



Digitized 



by Google 



" OVER THE BILLS!* Ill 

But perhaps the greatest eyil of all has been the 
manner in which the introduction of railways or even 
tiamwaTB into the colony has been affected. To take 
our own district as an example : the country to the east- 
ward of the Darling Bange is the first agricultural dis- 
trict, of any considerable extent, which is met with when 
tiayelling &om the sea-coast at Fremantle directly into 
the interior. It ought, therefore, to become the chief 
granary of the capital The whole district is a wide one, 
and might, if fully cultivated, furnish sufficient com to 
sapply not only all colonial wants, but a large export 
demand also. 

These eastern districts are usually spoken of by the 
ooUectiye title of ''over the hills," and contain the little 
towns of York, Kortham, Newcastle, and Beverley — Bar- 
ladong being one of these, though for reasons which have 
been already stated, I have given it its native name in 
these pages. These places lie at distances varying from 
ten or fifteen to twenty or thirty miles from one another ; 
but the country which intervenes is most of it occupied, 
and settlers' houses occur pretty thickly, that is, about 
every three or four miles. 

The inhabitants are all employed in the same pursuits, 
chiefly agricultural farming combined with sheep and 
cattle breeding, and have therefore similar interests and 
sknilar desires. A railroad from some part of the district 
to Perth is that public work which they wish for most 
earnestly, and in comparison with which every other 
work appears to them to be almost useless. Now were 
there a fair amount of population upon the line of country 
between Perth and the eastern settlements,]^there would 



Digitized 



by Google 



112 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

be a good prospect of such an amount of roadside traffic 
as to render a railway a paying concern at once ; but as 
there is none, it can only be formed by Grovemment funds, 
and must depend for success upon a fviwre traffic, to be 
developed by the increased activity which it would call 
forth. The same argument applies to almost every public 
work which can be named — the various districts are so 
far from one another that each place stands alone; its 
interests are not the same as even those, perhaps, of its 
nearest neighbour. The settler at Albany has nothing in 
common. with him at Bunbury ; the agriculturist at York 
knows nothing of the wants of the pearl-fishers at Koe- 
bourne; each district has its own needs and its own 
habits of thinking, and does not trouble itself about what 
the other parts of the colony may be doing. The expense 
and the difficulty of travelling are both so great, that the 
inhabitants of one part of the colony very seldom seem to 
visit the other districts, and I even knew a lady at Bcurla- 
dong who had not visited Perth, or indeed left her own 
home, for more than twenty years. 

The stationary habits involved in these obstacles to loco- 
motion naturally impart a great sameness to life in West 
Australia, and furnish little to relate concerning it that 
is either of exciting interest, or that partakes of the 
character of adventure. One day is an exact counterpart 
of the other, with no variety but a change of occupations 
in accordance with the different seasons of the year. A 
relation of events therefore, in regular sequence, during 
the five years that we spent in the colony, could only 
weary by its monotony ; nor have I a hope of interesting 
my readers, excepting by the selection of such incidents 



Digitized 



by Google 



SUNDAY LESSONS. 113 

and peculiarities as offer a strong contrast to modes of 
life in England. 

It was a long while before I became accustomed to the 
change of seasons, and I seemed to lose my count of time 
with the absence of the landmarks (if such an expression 
may be permitted) that record its flight in the other 
hemisphere. There was even a feeling of inappropriate- 
ness about the Sunday lessons, which in the old coimtry, 
long habit makes to harmonize with certain states of 
weather. For instance, the first morning lesson on the 
Ninth Sunday after Trinity seems well-timed at home, 
occurring as it does in the middle of summer, and in- 
creasing, by its apparent fitness to the season, our interest 
in the description of Ahab and Obadiah going different 
ways in their search for water ; whereas on the southern 
side of the world the chapter falls due in the rainy season, 
and perhaps on that particular Sunday the children 
would bring me word that, as they came over the bridge 
to school, they had seen that " the river was beginning to 
run," an event which was brought about only by many 
successive days of rain. 

But never did the weather seem so little in accordance 
with our feelings as at Christmas, when the heat was so 
great as to make all exertion a burden, excepting in the 
early hours of the morning. To this circumstance I 
attribute the little notice which that season of joy re- 
ceives in Western Australia as compared' with the 
acclamations that welcome it in northern countries ; and 
though the traditional bill of fare is strictly adhered to, 
and the neglect of it would be esteemed an affront to 



Digitized 



by Google 



114 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA, 

one's mother-country, yet the necessity for much cookery 
at that time involves such severe conflict with the 
weather that no one thinks of prolonging the festivity ; 
indeed I should much doubt whether there are many 
persons, bom and reared in the colony, who have ever 
heard of Twelfth Day. Christmas Day itself was cele- 
brated with all due religious observance and with the 
meeting together of friends, and though the dressing of 
the church beforehand was a real labour in such a tem- 
perature, volimteers for the work were never lacking. 
But the one great day seemed to constitute the whole of 
Christmastide. 

On the occurrence of the first Christmas that we spent 
" over the hills," I felt as if brought to a dead halt in all 
my previous notions of promoting the happiness and com- 
fort of the poor. My thoughts had been running upon 
the last time that we had witnessed that festival in our 
old home parish — ^the dole of beef distributed to every 
family — the old women coming to the house through the 
sleet on St. Thomas's Day to beg for their accustomed 
shillings — "going Thomasing," as they called it — the 
waits coming outside our windows at twelve o'clock on 
Christmas Eve, a chair being especially carried for the 
accommodation of the double-bass — ^my mind had been 
fixed on such recollections as these, and there seemed 
to be something unnatural in being in a country where 
neither blankets nor flannel would be seasonable gifts, 
and where " Thomas " was the tutelary saint not of the 
shortest day but of Midsummer. By the time, how- 
ever, that we had lived five years in the colony we had 
learned to think an excessive degree of heat at Christ- 



Digitized 



by Google 



ACCIDENT TO COW, 115 

mas quite as correct as an equal amount of cold would 
haye been at home, and, on the principle of extremes 
meeting, I daresay that if we had stayed longer the 
hotter the Christmas the more " old-fashioned " we should 
haye begun to call it. One's ideas, however, of a merry 
Christmas are not so easily shifted; these require the 
contrast of sharp weather out of doors with light and 
warmth within, besides which mirth is so inseparable 
from activity that the sun-heat in repressing the last 
goes far to extinguish the first. 

Considerable excitement was caused us upon a more 
than ordinarily hot Christmas Eve, by our cow managing 
to tumble down the side of a steep bank into the river, 
where, in about 30 feet of water and only her head above 
the surface, she was surveyed with perplexity by our own 
household, and by some sympathizing neighbours. The 
depth of water into which she had fallen no doubt saved 
her from breaking her legs, but as it was impossible for 
her to be got up again into the field by the same road by 
which she had descended, owing to the perpendicular 
nature of the bank, we were at a loss what to do. The 
height from the water was more than twenty feet, and 
though one of our kind friends tried to cut a sort of 
staircase for her, up which he thought she might manage 
to climb, she attempted the ascent in vain; she could 
neither clamber up herself nor could we drag her up by 
ropes, so she remained swimming about in the pool, which 
was nearly half a mile in length. At last a natiye made 
a ball of his few clothes, tied them on his head, and with 
a rope in his hand, swam out after poor "Mooley," who 
seemed rather to enjoy her bath. When once the rope 



Digitized 



by Google 



116 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

was round her horns she was soon towed to a landing- 
place on the opposite side, where she was met by a woman 
sent a mile round for that purpose, and driven homa 

That night, when every door was standing open, we 
heard a cheerful voice shouting the name of " Master," 
and in walked Khourabene, whom we had not lately seen, 
desirous of being informed whether what he had heard 
in the town was true, that to-morrow was "Kismas.*' 
Khourabene knew very well the kind of dinner to expect 
if this report should prove correct, and had had his 
own reasons for timing his visit so neatly, for if there is 
one thing in the world in which natives show a similarity 
of taste to white people, it is in fondness for a Christmas 
pudding. He did not mistrust our willingness to give 
him a share of our plum-pudding, but he had a great 
desire to make one for himself, in fact, had brought with 
him flour for the purpose, and, being humoured with the 
other ingredients, he tied them up all in a cloth, and 
dropped his bundle very knowingly into the pot where 
the parson's pudding was already boiling. 

Khourabene had gained this expertness in cookery by 
frequenting the house of a very kind-hearted settler, 
whose own and wife's great pleasure at Christmas was 
to make an enormous plum-pudding expressly for the 
natives, and to see their enjoyment of it, Khourabene's 
recollections of this good couple were sometimes of the 
suggestive sort, as for instance, it so happened that my 
husband being seriously indisposed on one occasion when 
he paid us a visit, after eying the invalid with tears for 
a few moments, he informed me that he had cried so 
much when his "old master" was iU that *' missis say. 



Digitized 



by Google 



KOURABENE'S OLD MASTER. 117 

'Good boy Khourabene,' and give me three sticks of 
tobacco." 

The history of this " old master," as Khourabene called 
him, who made the natives so merry at Christmas, was an 
example of the success which seldom fails in a new country 
to await on the industry of those to whom agricultural 
labour has been familiar from their childhood. He had 
left England as a lad, and had come out to Western 
Australia in a humble capacity a few years after the first 
foundation of the Swan River Settlement. By degrees 
his honesty of purpose and steady industry had enabled 
hun to work his way upwards until he became the upper 
servant or bailiflF to one of the more wealthy of the 
settlers. Now at that period money, which had been 
plentiful enough quite at the commencement, had become 
80 scarce, owing to the complete failure of the plans upon 
which the colony had depended for success, that it was 
out of the power of even the larger landowners to 
liquidate their servants' wages in cash, and the payments 
were of necessity postponed. 

The consequence of this state of things (some twenty 
years ago) was as follows: — The wages accumulated, as 
a debt due from the master, until they amounted to a 
considerable sum, and when payment was made it waa 
almost invariably in kind. Perhaps ten or twenty head 
of cattle would be paid as wages to a shepherd or a stock- 
man for two or three years' service, the bargain including 
the right to run the cattle with the master's herd. More- 
over, as all stock had diminished in value, owing to the 
great depression in which everything was involved, and 
as the sheep and cattle were taken by the servants at 



Digitized 



by Google 



118 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA, 

this diminished valuation in payment of their wages, it 
will easily be seen that the man who landed with nothing 
but his own hands and head to trust to had, if he was 
honest and sober, a better chance of getting on, during 
that period of utter depression, than the originally 
wealthy settler, whose capital had been sunk in flocks 
and herds for which he could find no sale, and which he 
was obliged to part with by degrees to those who watched 
and tended them, since he had no money with which to 
pay their wages. 

Thus, during the long period of utter stagnation which 
fell upon this unfortunate colony after its ill-mam^ed 
foundation, many of the servants had become flock-owners 
and cattle-breeders, while most of their former masters 
had been ruined. The servants were therefore in a posi- 
tion to share in the advantages of the artificial life which 
was breathed into Swan Eiver by the introduction of 
convicts in 1850, when a sheep, which but a short time 
before had been worth only eighteenpence, rose suddenly 
in price to a guinea, and every other description of farm 
produce acquired a fictitious value. There were then bat 
a few of the original settlers left to share this harvest; 
many of them had quitted Western Australia disappointed 
and half-ruined men, others had died of broken hearts, 
and some few, yet more unfortunate, had become useless 
drunkards through sorrow and despair. 

Of the sad history of these early years an account will 
be found towards the end of these pages, but it was 
necessary to refer to them here in order that the reader 
might be able to understand the history of Khourabene's 
old master. He was amongst the individuals who profited 



Digitized 



by Google 



EARLY EABD8EIPS. 1 19 

most by the colony becoming a penal settlement, and, on 
finding himself a rich man, he visited England for the 
purpose of assisting his relations at home, and brought 
back with him to Western Australia fourteen of them in 
the same ship in which he was a cabin passenger. 

As we sat upon the steps of his verandah one hot night, 

talking of farm labour and of farming lads in England, 

he gave us a sketch of his own early history, commencing 

with the assertion that the colonial boys knew nothing of 

real hardship. Then he told us how he had begun life as 

a poor child, earning half-a-crown a week by cutting 

turnips for sheep, and how, in the winter, his feet were so 

covered with chilblains that he could scarcely pull on his 

boots in the morning, or do anything but "hobble and 

cry " for the first quarter of a mile after starting to go to 

his work — and how eagerly he listened towards evening 

for the sound of the wheels of the once famous coach 

* Defiance,' the punctual passing of which was as good as 

a clock to the labourers in the turnip field, in announcing 

the hour, as it rolled by, which brought the day's toil to 

an end. How, when he was seventeen he took it into his 

head that he would go to Australia, and how he paid a 

farewell visit to his old master, who gave him sixpence as 

a parting present, accompanied with the time-honoured 

advice " to keep it always in his pocket, so that he might 

never want money " ; and how when he sowed his first bit 

of land his wife did the bird-scaring with a decrepit gun, 

of which the cock was missing, so that she had to hit the 

cap with a hammer each time she fired. 

From the windows of his house we now looked over a 
tract of more than five hundred acres of cleared land, all 



Digitized 



by Google 



120 SKETCUES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

his own, and covered with waving com ; this open space 
seeming to hold at bay the primeval forest that bordered 
it, and in the hollow where a large pool separated the 
cornfields from the farm-yard, there rose a steam flour- 
mill, a late addition to the homestead of which the full 
value can be appreciated only by those who have known 
what it is to have to grind the supply of flour for the 
family day after day in a hand-mill. I have heard early 
colonists allude to this as being the most irksome of their 
daily occupations, especially on Saturdays, when a double 
portion had to be ground to last over the Sunday. 

In the days when Barladong was first springing up into 
a town all the wheat was ground in these hand-mills, and 
great were the complaints of the labour falling upon 
settlers* wives in consequence. Two ingenious men, one 
of whom was a bleicksmith, chivalrously endeavoured to 
remedy this hardship by constructing a steam-engine 
from such odds and ends as could be picked up in the 
colony, which probably then afforded a narrower choice 
of materials than the contents of an ordinary marine* 
store at home. They manfully hammered a lot of old 
tire-iron into the form of a boiler, and actually succeeded 
in making their engine grind com, but it was so noisy 
over its work, and devoured such a quantity of fuel, that 
it soon wore out its own constitution, and became useless. 
It remained, however, even in our day, standing in the 
old mill in its cashiered condition, an interesting monu- 
ment of colonial perseverance and courageous struggle 
with difficulties. 

In spite of all the toU and inconvenience that beset 
those early days, they were fondly looked back to by 



Digitized 



by Google 



PRIMITIVE WEDDING. 121 

many of the colonists, and the comparisons which I often 
heard them draw between times past and times present 
were not always to the advantage of the latter. It is 
trae that the ladies had left off plaiting their husbands* 
hats from the straw of their own fields ; neither was it 
any longer necessary for them, as in old times, to patch 
and mend worn-out boots, in order that one neat pair 
might be kept for Sundays until the arrival of some long- 
expected ship. Hats could now be purchased at the 
stores, and, if boots were wanted, both bootmaker and 
leather were at hand without any need for waiting for 
ready-made boots from England. 

Neither were there any longer such primitive ways of 

conducting weddings as were related to me by an early 

colonist of a marriage at which she had assisted, when 

the bride and bridegroom were escorted by their friends, 

all on foot, through the bush to church, and afterwards 

accompanied to the banks of the Swan, where the pair 

embarked for their home in a little boat, with an old 

man in the bows playing on a fiddle, and with a goat and 

her kid, the property of the amiable bride, bleating 

discordantly somewhere amidships. Nowadays wedding 

parties drove very splendidly to church in "traps," as 

the vehicles resembling dog-carts are colonially called, 

J»nd the number of these was quoted in deciding upon 

the merits of the affair, just as carriages are reckoned up 

on similar occasions in England. " A wedding of eleven 

traps " was something startling in its magnificence. But 

I used often to hear people express the opinion that what 

they had of late years gained in material comfort they 

had lost in sociability. One fact was especially dwelt 



Digitized 



by Google 



122 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

upon as being a great change for the worse, namely, that 
the loaded teams of wool and sandalwood were now 
usually put under the charge of ticket-of-leave men or 
expirees as drivers, whereas in former times each gentle- 
man had been his own wagoner, and had, at the evening 
halt, joined with his fellow-colonists in the merriment 
around the one huge camp fire, good feeling being thus 
promoted between persons whose birth was not always 
equal, although their occupations were similar. The 
influx of Government money has produced a rapid in- 
crease of wealth in many cases, and those who have 
been lucky in the general scramble too often look down 
upon those who have remained poor, thus reducing into 
narrower compass the already small society. 

Hitherto my only ideas of a shepherd's life had been 
formed on the examples which I had seen at home, where, 
in our own village, the three that I knew best were men 
prematurely bent with rheumatism, and frequently com- 
pelled, nevertheless, to brave the biting east winds at 
two o'clock in the March mornings, when the very 
lambs themselves, bom at such early hours, and with the 
weathercock in that direction, often required to be 
"brought round" by the judicious administration of small 
doses of gin. Whether no other species of nursing would 
have induced the lambs to face an English spring I am 
too ignorant to say, but for the necessity of some such 
cordial in the sheep-fold I have the authority of a shep- 
herd's wife in a bleak upland county in England. As to 
such beings as shepherdesses, I had supposed that they 
were mere fancy creatures invented by the writers of 
pastorals. However, I now discovered that beneath the 



Digitized 



by Google 



SHEPEEBDESSES, 123 

benigner skies of Australia not only was there no neces- 
sary connection between shepherds and crippled limbs, 
but that shepherdess^ had had a very real existence, 
and that, if now extinct in the colony, it was only of late 
that they had become so. 

At our friend's house we met two very chamung young 
ladies, whose father had purchased land many years 
before, in a part of the bush so remote from other colonists 
that, when he first went there, the natives used to settle 
their quarrels close to his threshold, and his wife, on 
such occasions, would have to run out and catch up her 
younger children who might be playing in front of the 
house, for fear of accidental hurt from the spears, one or 
two of which, missing the aboriginal at whom they were 
aimed, would sometimes alight on the thatched roof, and 
stick there as in a pincushion. 

There was no sort of labour suited to female hands 
which these young ladies had not attempted in the effort 
to lighten their father's first struggle with the wilderness, 
and the elder of the two told me that at sixteen years of 
age she and a younger sister had been his shepherdesses 
for many months, their successful care of the flock 
needing no other eulogy than the mention of the fact 
that, when relieved from their charge by a hired shep- 
herd, more sheep died of "poison " in one month than in 
the whole previous six. 

To those who own the sheep the task of hindering 
them from browsing upon " poison " is, as I have said, not 
only troublesome but very anxious, and my informant 
told me that if she had had to follow the flock any longer, 
she " thought that she should have gone crazy." It is 



Digitized 



by Google 



124 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

not only necessary to watch that the sheep shall not eat 
the pernicious plants, but also to be able to treat an 
animal that is suspected of having done so, as is the case 
when its eyes look heavy and dull; if it is then kept 
without water for two days there is a chance of its re- 
covery, but if allowed to drink when in that state the body 
swells and death inevitably follows. 

" Once," she said, " a good part of the flock wandered 
away, and for two days and nights my sister and I neither 
ate nor slept. We said nothing about it, but as soon 
as we could see each morning we opened the door softly 
and hurried out upon the search. At last we met a man 
who had seen our missing sheep, and he directed us which 
way to go. You cannot be too gentle in minding sheep ; 
if you run after them you drive them away, and sheep 
have their regular times in the day when they like to 
lie down and be quiet, and then the shepherds can sit 
and rest in their huts. My sister and I had our own hut, 
where we sat and sewed and read the Bible together, and 
thought how like our life seemed to that of the people 
iQ Genesis. One of our brothers took care of the pigs 
and brought them home at night; fifty pigs is a great 
deal to be on the mind of a child of nine years old." 

And then followed a humorous description of the dogs 
helping to get the pigs home, and of the especial trouble 
given by some individual pig, bigger than the rest, who 
would presume on his superior size to bully his youthful 
driver, and be only induced to go the right road at last 
when one of the dogs fairly dragged him into it by the 
ear. Though whether the ear, the shoulder, or the tail 
was chosen by the dog as the best spot upon which to 



Digitized 



by Google 



ANXIETIES OF PIG-BOY. 125 

enforce the necessary discipline seemed to depend upon 
the manner in which he had been educated to the work, 
each several animal having his own especial method of 
persuasion from which he never departed. 

Of the gentleness which is necessary in minding sheep 
another lady once gave me a good illustration. She 
was asked, she said, to look after the sheep in a home 
paddock for part of a day, during the absence of a ser- 
vant, and wishing to do her best, was so very energetic 
in following them up and down, that the sheep, becoming 
Bospicious of her motives, commenced running about, and 
two unlucky ones, more scared than the others, jumped 
the fence, and diving into the bush were never again 
heard of by their owner. 

As to the care of pigs, and the anxiety which they 
cause to the young lads who are usually appointed to 
that oflBce, I remember another incident which occurred 
under my own observation. A warder's wife in Barladong 
was desirous of obtaining employment in the immediate 
neighbourhood for one of her children, a grave taciturn 
boy of nine years old, and small for his age. She thought 
herself fortimate in hearing of a situation as " pig-boy " 
at a settler's about three miles distant, and at once made 
application for it on behalf of her son. Terms were 
agreed upon, and a stipulation was made that the boy 
should come home for the night every Saturday evening. 
The week passed over slowly to the anxious woman, and 
when the much-desired Saturday evening was arrived the 
lad returned to his happy mother, looking fat and well 
and quite satisfied with his new master. When bed- time 
came and the boy retired to his usual couch his mother 



Digitized 



by Google 



126 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

noticed that he did not fall aaleep at once, but lay awake 
thinking solemnly about something or other which lay 
heavy on his mind. Next morning she asked him if 
he was unhappy about anything. "No," he said, "mas- 
ter's very good to me." She then inquired what he had 
been brooding over the night before. " 0, about them 
pigs, — they will go just where I tell 'em not to go ; they 
iviU get where I don't want 'em to get." Next Saturday 
it was still the same, — the boy's mind waa quite haunted 
by the remembrance of the vagaries of his swinish flock. 
Still another week and another yet passed on, when 
suddenly, about Tuesday or Wednesday in the fifth week, 
the boy walked in, having run away from his place, as 
he owned. His mother scolded him for his behaviour, 
and asked him if anyone had been harsh or unkind. No, 
all had been kind to him. She tried to make out why he 
had left, but for a long time in vain ; at length he threw 
his arms round her neck and sobbed out, " The pigs is 90 
troublesome I " — they had feirly broken his heart at last 



Digitized 



by Google 



CAFACITT OF NATIVES. 127 



CHAPTER VII. 

Opinion of our shipmate on the snhjeot of educating natives — Success 
of Boman Catholic bishop — Wesleyan Mission School — Its failure 
— Mis. Gamfield — Causes of her success with natives — Her difficulty 
in establishing her pupils in life — Anxiety of the Bishop of Perth to 
undertake guidance of institution at Albany, and to resign his See for 
that purpose — Petition to abandon project of resignation — Our 
inability to undertake missionary work at Barladong — Mingee and 
her mother — Protest against name of Sally — Mingee handed over 
to her betrothed — Mingee elopes with half-caste — Family complica- 
tions — Elhourabene left in charge of Parsonage — Dying native 
woman — Binnahan — Ehourabene's opinion of legs — Native funeral 
—Hasty interment — Going to school — Hen and duckling — Quick- 
Dess in learning to read — Backwardness in sewing — " Squeak " in 
boots — Forlorn little native — Names suitable to good society. 

On board our ship, in the voyage to Western Australia, 
there had been an intermediate passenger who was re- 
turning thither after a few years' residence in England, 
and whom I often interrogated concerning the natives of 
the new country to which we were sailing. I was curious 
to know whether the " aborigines," as they are now styled, 
whom Captain Cook would in his older time have called 
" Indians," were capable of being taught and improved, 
and our shipmate answered that they could learn ex- 
tremely well, " though it was but labour lost to educate 
them, as they were no sooner of an age to marry than 
they would run away from their instructors, and be off 
again to the bush." He added that the Koman Catholics 
had done more for the natives, and had obtained a greater 



Digitized 



by Google 



128 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

influence over them, than had been achieved in their 
behaK by any other sect of Christians, and that a Roman 
Catholic bishop, whose sole duty was the care of the 
natives, and who lived in the bush with his converts, had 
had considerable success amongst them. I inferred there- 
fore, from what our shipmate said, that this bishop, whose 
name I did not then learn, had foimd that to benefit the 
poor savages it was necessary to adapt himself to their 
own mianner of life, and to take up his abode in the bush 
with the flock that he desired to convert. 

After we had been a short time settled in Barladong, 
the subject of the natives began to hang heavily upon us. 
They came and went perpetually, lived all around us, 
but had no religion, and it did not seem to be anybody's 
business to teach them one. On making inquiries of our 
neighbours, we were told that some years previously a 
school had been carried on in Barladong, under the con- 
duct of a Wesleyan head, with the object of Christianiz- 
ing, and civilizing the native children, by instructing them 
both in religion and in the cultivation of the ground, 
and that a number of pupils, towards whose maintenance 
the colonial Government granted an allowance of a shilling 
each daily, had been collected together in a building 
which still bore the name of the Mission-house. Sick- 
ness, however, having soon appeared amongst them, many 
of the children died, and the remainder ran away. 

The illness was said to have been caused by feeding the 
children too exclusively on rice, a diet which, however 
suitable for Hindoos, is perhaps as little qualified to be 
the principal food of an Australian as of an English 
native. The provision which Nature has given to the 



Digitized 



by Google 



NECESSITY FOB MEAT DIET. 129 

former is the flesh of wild animals, and, as I have already 
showQ, her hand has been so niggardly of any other *food, 
that a vegetarian would probably find less in common 
between himself and an Australian, than with the inhabi- 
tants of any other part of the world. The climate itself 
seems to make the eating of meat a constitutional neces- 
sity, especially during the intense heats of summer, when, 
instead of the appetite for animal food being diminished/ 
meat becomes more than ever palatable, so that in every 
settler's house it is put upon the table three times 
a day. 

The school broke down, and had come to an end about 
ten years before we went to live in Barladong. A friend 
of ours once met a native woman who said that she had 
been one of the runaways, and held up her fingers 
eagerly to count upon them the number of children 
who had died. "Black fellow die — black fellow die," 
said she, as she touched one finger after another in 
the reckoning ; " me run away — 'fraid die too." Having 
finished her return of deaths, she went on to say " Black; 
fellow sick — white lady fowl sendum— white lady kan- 
garoo sendum — master all self eatum — " but here she 
paused and made an exception in favour of the matron, 
expressed by the words " Missis not eatum — missis good 
fellow." 

This was all that we ever learned of the Barladong 
Wesleyan Mission, and we were never able to find any 
printed account of it, though we were told that there 
had been one in a Wesleyan magazine, headed with an 
engraving of the school side by side with a chapel, which 
was probably a stock frontispiece to missionary reports in 



Digitized 



by Google 



130 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

general, for no chapel had ever been attached to the 
institution. To the conscientiously sincere membets of 
the sect, the failure of this school was so painful, that 
two of them whom I questioned on the subject told me 
plainly that they could not bear to think or speak 
about it. 

We next learned that in the southern extremity of the 
colony, Mrs. Camfield, the wife of the resident magistrate 
of Albany, a town which is situated on the harbour of King 
George's Sound, had devoted many years of her life to the 
education of the native children, and that, after having 
commenced the good work unaided, she had been enabled 
to continue it by the help of a yearly grant from Govern- 
ment. The custom of early betrothals that prevails 
amongst the natives has been a great stumbling-block to 
their permanent improvement, and it is the necessary 
fulfilment of these imperative family contracts that has 
caused that constant disappointment of philanthropic 
schemes to which our fellow-passenger alluded when he 
said that as soon as boys and girls were past childhood 
they would invariably leave those who had brought them 
up, to run away into the bush. 

But the natives, if strict in exacting the fulfilment of a 
promise to themselves, understand also how to keep one 
made to others, and Mrs. Ctunfield's invariable stipulation, 
in undertaking the charge of a child, is that its parents 
shall not at any future time demand it back, an agree- 
ment which is rendered binding in their opinion by a 
present of flour, or a small piece of money, as earnest or 
pledge of the bargain. I was told that she began by 
adopting one little native girl, and that she afterwaxds 



Digitized 



by Google 



MBS, CAMFIELB'S SCHOOL. 131 

extended her beneyolence towards others Tintil, by 
degrees, she collected round her a school which, when 
we were in the colony, consisted of some two dozen 
children. 

The institution is on the model of an industrial one at 
home, all the housework and cookery being performed by 
the pupils, in addition to which they receive such an 
education as is usually imparted in National Schools in 
England. None of the inmates of Mrs. Camfield's home 
have ever run away from it, the secret of her art in 
retaining them being that she really loves the natives, 
and treats their children in all respects like those of 
white persons as to their clothing, diet, and Jodging. 

I heard that one day a native, who had lost his wife, 
came to Mrs. Camfield, bringing in his arms his poor 
motherless little baby, to entreat her to take charge of it ; 
but, as the child seemed unlikely to live, she would not 
at first receive it, for several children in the school had 
lately died, and she feared that her institution might 
gain an ill name with the natives if any more deaths 
occurred. The man, however, came a second time, 
begging so urgently, with tears in his eyes, that she 
would consent to take the baby, that she found it impos- 
sible to refuse him any longer, and, under her care, the 
child lingered on for two or three months, gradually 
dwindling away imtil it died. 

Mrs. Camfield's chief diflBculty is how to settle her 
girls in life, for when grown up the inevitable question 
arises. Whom are they to marry ? They cannot, after the 
training that they have received, take a savage husband ; 
and though I believe two of her pupils have married 



Digitized 



by Google 



132 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

tickot-of-leave men, yet the prospects held out by such 
alliances are poor rewards for adopting Christian habits, 
and but sorry inducements for retaining them. 

An attempt has been made to decide the knotty point 
by the modern panacea of emigration, and a short time 
before we returned to England a statement appeared in 
the newspapers, and received no contradiction, to the 
eflTect that Mrs. Camfield had received, from a missionary 
in another Australian colony, photographs of such of his 
young male converts as might prove eligible matches for 
the elder girls in her school, and that, the portraits being 
pronounced satisfactory, several of her pupils had been 
shipped to that colony and consigned to the missionary's 
care. At any rate a few of the girls emigrated, and the 
letters that Mrs. Camfield received from one of them, 
describing the voyage and its termination, might safely 
be adduced as satisfying for ever all doubts of the intelli- 
gence and capacity of the natives of Australia. 

Of this one particular pupil, when a child, mention is 
made by Mrs. Smythe, in her * Narrative of a Voyage to 
the Fiji Islands.' The ship .having entered King Gteorge's 
Sound, she and Colonel Smythe paid a visit on the Sun- 
day to Mrs. Camfield's school, and were much struck by 
the correctness with which this little native repeated the 
collect for the day. Mrs. Smythe alsD makes mention of 
having observed that the hair of some of the children was 
light-coloured in comparison with their skin, a feet of 
some importance in the vexed question of race. 

Up to the time of our return no school or institution for 
thfe benefit of the natives in connection with the Church 
of England had been established in the colony, with the 



Digitized 



by Google 



BISHOP'S LETTER. 133 

exception of that at Albany, neither had either of the two 
great societies, the Church Missionary and the Society for 
the Propagation of the Gospel, fonnded any stations there. 
"It looks strsuige," wrote one of our correspondents, "to 
see no account of what is doing in Perth in the S. P. G. 
annual reports, every other colonial diocese being there 
mentioned." 

Since our return to England, however, this neglect of 
the natives has weighed so heavily on the mind of the 
Bishop of Perth, that he has been anxious to resign his 
bishopric in order that he might place himself at the head 
of an earnest effort to gather in a flock of poor Western 
Australians, who might be Christianized and civilized in 
an establishment such as the one with which he was 
formerly connected at Poonindee in South Australia. 

The school at Albany is rapidly dwindling away of late, 
and contained but fourteen children at the census of 1870. 
I believe that not only has the Government aid been 
withdrawn, but that Mrs. Camfield, who was the guiding 
spirit of the whole, has been unable to continue the good 
work which she had carried on so long and so well. 

To quote the Bishop's words in the letter in which he 
announced his intention of resigning the see : — " I will 
mention first then, the great uneasiness of mind which 
I have always felt with reference to the native popula- 
tion of this colony, and the sanguine hope which I en- 
tertain that my removal to Albany may have the effect 
of not only preserving the native institution there from 
the extinction which seems now to be impending over it, 
but I think I may be enabled, under God's blessing, to 
giye it something more than revived activity, and to 



Digitized 



by Google 



134 SKETCHES IN WESTEBN AUSTRALIA. 

make it really useful to the rising generation of natives 
and half-castes in this colony." 

The Bishop was begged to withdraw his resignation, 
and so large a number of the colonists joined in pressing 
this request upon him that he felt bound to yield, but 
now that attention has been drawn so strongly to the sub- 
ject it is to be hoped most earnestly that something may 
be done at last, commensurate with the duty which lies 
before the colony, a duty long neglected and but lately 
even acknowledged.* 

The Government occasionally distributes a few blankets 
to the natives at the beginning of the winter, and if a 
doctor's certificate is given to the effect that a native is 
helpless and ill, he is allowed weekly "rations" by an 
order from the magistrate. A prison has also been pro- 
vided on the Island of Eottnest, for such native criminals 
as have offended against our laws, where they are employed 
in agriculture ; and in the hope of putting an end to that 
custom of avenging a death by the slaughter of an un- 
offending person to which I have before referred, natives 
who had been convicted of observing it, were occasionally 
hanged, 

WhsX we ourselves could do for the aborigines was very 
little. Missionary work, to effect any good result, must be 
a person's sole care and occupation, and could not, in any 
degree worthy of the name, be carried on by a clergyman in 
the position of Government chaplain in Western Australia. 
Besides it W6ts plain that any endeavours of ours to teach 
the natives must end in failure, situated as we were near 
a town where about nine men out of ten were of the con- 

* By the latest mails we hear that a school is now established for the 
natives at Perth. (See Appendix.) 



Digitized 



by Google 



MINQEE. 135 

vict class, and where the character of the hotel tap-rooms 
was such as might be expected in consequence. We felt 
no doubt that we could succeed in assembling a school of 
native children, that is, if we fed and clothed them, but 
to do this we were not rich enough, even had our other 
avocations left us sufficient time for the exclusive atten- 
tion that our pupils would have required. However, we 
thought that we could take one native child to bring up 
in our own house, more especially as Khourabene often 
visited us in company with a little niece, and had once 
asked us as a favour to let ** Mingee " which was her name, 
signifying drought, remain all night at the parsonage 
whilst he went elsewhere. 

The only drawback to poor Mingee was the existence 
of her mother, of whom the chief good that could be said 
was that she had a pretty face, since she was encroaching 
and tiresome, and required to be kept at arm's length. In 
the meantime the idea of his niece becoming one of our 
household gave great satisfaction to Khourabene. He 
could not imagine that his sister would make any diffi- 
culties, and undertook to fetch Mingee himself without 
delay. Accordingly he presented himseK one morning, 
leading her solemnly by the hand in quite an unac- 
customed manner, so that it was plain that he intended 
to go through a little ceremonial of his own getting up 
in entrusting her to our care. To make the scene more 
impressive, he accompanied it with a formal farewell, and, 
having lectured Mingee in our presence on the necessity 
of obedience and good behaviour, he took his leave at 
once, instead of remaining all day as usual, with a 
promise, however, that his absence should be but of short 
duration. 



Digitized 



by Google 



136 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

Reassured by the prospect of soon seeing her uncle 
again, Mingee seemed well contented to remain with us, 
and the inaugural ceremony of washing her face being gone 
through, we hoped that we might have good luck with 
our little black bargain. A few hours afterwards the 
dreaded mother appeared. She had answered so long to 
the name of Sally, that the people for whom she had occa- 
sionally fetched water took it rather ill of her that she 
had lately dubbed herseK Annie, and would reply to no 
other appellation except under protest, and the same per- 
sons further objected to her that she called herself a lady, 
which is, however, a style that I have also known white 
women to assume on very insufficient grounds. 

I saw no reason for taking exception at either of these 
peculiarities, but a third charge which was urged against 
her, viz, of greediness after money, proved insuperable on 
her explaining that she would allow us to keep Mingee 
on no other terms than that of paying a rather heavy 
weekly tribute to herself for the favour of feeding, cloth* 
ing, and teaching her daughter. Thus our first trial 
dropped through, and two years afterwards poor Mingee 
was handed over to her betrothed, a middle-aged man 
with one wife already. This lady, who if she had been 
white would probably have shown herseK an able cham- 
pion of woman's rights, began to beat the bride two days 
after the wedding, and Mingee soon bettered herself by 
running away with a young haK-caste of an age to suit 
her own, an evasion which the elder wife regarded with 
much complacency, and which was probably the end that 
she had in view when she first commenced hostilities. 

The fugitives had both of them a leaning towards 



Digitized 



by Google 



DOMESTIC DIFFICULTIES. 137 

dyilized life, and a colonist for whom they sometimes 
worked was anxious to give them a cottage and a piece of 
groimd for com, in the hope of inducmg the pair to 
remain with him as his permanent servants. But there 
were wheels within wheels in their destiny which forbade 
them to hope for a settled life. Not only might their 
door, if ever they possessed a house, be darkened by the 
middle-aged spouse, but the half-caste himself was beset 
with worse diflSculties on his own account. His mother 
bad long ago betrothed him to another native girl, and 
the fear of being knocked on the head by his nearest 
relations for contumaciously ignoring the agreement^ 
condemned him and the girl of his own selection to an 
existence as unquiet as that of the Wandering Jew. So 
complicated are domestic afiairs in a society where poly- 
gamy is lawful, and where the marriages are arranged 
solely by the parents. 

I have already alluded once or twice to little Bin- 
nahan, and I will now relate how it was that she came to 
live under our roofl Some few months after the disap- 
pointment of our plans with respect to Mingee, my hus- 
band left home to attend one of the Perth clerical 
meetings^ which were always in January, and Khourabene, 
according to custom, was deputed to mount guard over 
oar house in its master's absence. 

By way of making an imposing demonstration after 
dark, our sentry paraded in front of the house with a 
spear ; and once when I returned from an evening walk 
with Bosa, I found that he had possessed himself of the 
broomstick which we used as a kitchen poker, and was 
shouldering it in the doorway in a manner that might 



Digitized 



by Google 



138 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA, 

have reflected credit on a soldier on duty at the Horse 
Guards. The slightest sound at night sufficed to rouse 
him ; and if I merely opened my door to let in our pet 
opossum he was awake directly, crying out from his lair 
of kangaroo skins in the verandah, "Hullo, mother! 
what's the matter?" His appreciation of being trusted 
kept him proof against aU temptations to drink, and in 
spite of the vicinity of many public-houses, he never once 
got drunk when left in a post of responsibility. 

Barladong deserved its reputation of a very scorching 
place in the summer-time, but it had this compensation 
that the heated granite on the top of Mount Douraking 
cooling faster after sunset than the ground in the valley, 
caused a current of air to come sweeping down to us at a 
certain fixed hour every evening, and made our nights 
deliciously cooL If, however, there were bush-fires on 
every side, encircling us in a calm smoky atmosphere, 
the rocky hill was unable to radiate its heat so quickly, 
and we were deprived of our evening breeze. On such 
nights the stars on the horizon shone but very dimly, and 
an aromatic scent hung in the air from the burning of 
the great forest trees belonging to the same order as the 
myrtle. 

It was after a day of intense heat, followed by no night 
breeze, that 1 summoned up courage to take a walk with 
Bosa, just as darkness had fallen and a dull red line was 
all that marked the west. Our way led past the c(»nvict 
depot and the house of the colonial surgeon, below which, 
on a bank sloping towards the river, often stood one or 
two lonely huts containing sick natives, who were brought 
thither by their friends for the benefit of medical assist- 



Digitized 



by Google 



KITTY. 139 

ance. A fire was burning here, betokening the presence 
of an invalid on this particular eyening, and as Bosa and 
I leaned over the bridge watching the flicker of the fire- 
light in the dry river bed, a man standing near the 
wooden piers, who had recognized me, looked up, and 
told me that a native woman lay very ill in a hut below. 

On hearing this Eosa and I turned off the bridge, and 
went down the bank to see if we could offer her any help. 
We found, to our regret, that the sick woman was one 
with whom we were well acquainted, and her evidently 
hopeless state somewhat surprised us, as poor "Kitty" 
had called at our house in good health not very long 
before. Her intelligence was above the average, and a 
stranger from England, whose impressions of Australian 
natives had been solely derived from books, would have 
probably supposed, on seeing her neatly dressed and 
waiting at table, that she was a West Indian mulatto, 
excepting for the softness of her hair. 1 had been so 
much struck with her appearance on one such occasion as 
afterwards to feel surprised on receiving a visit from her 
attired in nothing but the native costume of a long fur 
mantle over one shoulder and under the other; but I 
found that, just in the same way as European ladies put 
on their travelling dresses, natives assume the kangaroo 
skin when about to make a journey. 

I came up to the hut where she was now lying on the 
ground, and the sight of me appeared to gratify the poor 
creature, for it was plain that she had something to say to 
me, and that she might the better do so her husband raised 
her and supported her in a sitting posture, when with 
much difficulty she pronounced the words, " Will you take 



Digitized 



by Google 



140 SKETCHES IN WESTEBN AUSTBALIA. 

my little girl?" The man completed the sentence for 
her, by explaining that she knew herself to be dying, 
and wanted me to take charge of Binnahan, their only 
child. I said at once that I would do so, feeling inwardly 
cei-tain of my husband's consent, but she seemed at first 
almost afraid to believe me; and the man tried to re- 
assure her, by saying in the native language, that I " was 
not telling lies." However, I did not leave her until I 
had tranquillized her mind with the repeated assurance 
that in case of her death her little daughter should live 
with us. 

Now it so happened that at the clerical meeting, 
amongst other subjects of discussion, the duties of Go- 
vernment chaplains towards the natives had occupied 
much attention, and my husband, amongst others of the 
clergy, had expressed an opinion that the natives were 
sadly neglected, and ought to be so no longer. Poor 
Kitty's request, which I communicated to him on big 
return, was a speedier test of sincerity than he had antici- 
pated, although it was one from which he had no thought 
of flinching ; he therefore went immediately to the river- 
side, and teUing her he was come to hear her wishes that 
he might endeavour to fulfil them, she just gasped out 
the words, " Take Binnahan — make good." She lingered 
a day or two longer, but on the following morning a little 
girl, whose only clothing was a small piece of cotton 
print pinned round her, peeped timidly and without 
speaking into the room where I was sitting, to let me 
know that she had arrived. 

She was a very slight little creature, with the thin 
limbs of her wild race, in fact the natives in general were 



Digitized 



by Google 



BINNAHAN. 141 

90 slim that I remember Ehourabene's ideas of art being 
much offended by a picture of savages in the * Illustrated 
London News,' which had represented them all with 
large calves to their legs, and he pointed out the defect, 
perhaps I ought rather to say superfluity, with very great 
disdain. I siipposed that she might be seven years old, 
but as she had changed all her first teeth, she was evi- 
d^itly older than she looked. Her skin, like that of the 
children at Albany whom Mrs. Smythe had noticed, was 
darker than her hair, which was soft and curly, setting off 
by its lighter colour the line of jet-black eyebrow and the 
dark expressive eyes below. 

She shared the Malay nose and mouth with her 
countrymen in general, a type of feature which is im- 
fortunately fsir more commonly found amongst them than 
fine hair, and which imparts to the coimtenance a sullen 
look even when there is no real sullenness in the temper ; 
but nature's even hand makes amends for this by the 
brilliancy of the teeth and eyes, so that a smile on a 
native fetce is like a 4^h of light Although she was 
quite clean, I could not sufficiently divest my mind of 
home traditions to suppose otherwise than that to wash her 
must be the first thing to be done, so Bosa and I put her 
in a bath ; but as she had arrived before I had been able 
to prepare her wardrobe, to dress her on leaving the tub 
was a matter far more difficult. I had managed, how- 
ever, by sundown to complete an overall pinafore, in which 
she immediately started off to exhibit herself to her 
parents, returning to sleep at our house, which from that 
day forth became her home. 

Two mornings afterwards, just as the sun had risen, a 



Digitized 



by Google 



142 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

pair of little black cousins appeared at our door ; there 
was no need to ask why they had come so early, as the 
grief in their faces betrayed their errand, and poor little 
Binnahan, throwing herseK face downwards on Bosa's 
bed, moaned aloud as though her heart was broken. She 
went away with the two girls as soon as the first burst of 
grief was oyer, and about an hour afterwards some native 
women came to ask me if I would give them a covering to 
lay over poor Kitty in her grave. This was the only 
time that I ever had a similar request, and I sent them 
away much gratified with a piece of white calico. We 
had once had a sadder petition preferred to us by some 
natives ; it was for the loan of our wheelbarrow to convey 
to her grave a woman who had been speared a few hours 
before, and whom we had seen at our door that morning 
alive and well, and had noticed as being remarkably 
handsome. 

I went down to the river-side, soon after sending the 
white covering, that I might see the last of Binnahan's 
poor mother. I should have known, even at a distance, 
that there had been a death amongst the natives, from 
the monotonous wailing noise that is always raised on 
such occasions until after the funeral, with a view of 
keeping off the evil spirit Jingy, the official mourner 
being relieved, when wearied, by others in uninterrupted 
succession imtil the grave is closed. A fat old woman, 
thus enacting the part of exorcist when I got to the 
place, was doing so with all her might, shaking her hands 
incessantly horn the wrists in a despairing manner, whilst 
she uttered her cries until the perspiration streamed oflT 
her face with heat and fatigue. Altogether she offered 



Digitized 



by Google 



NATIVE FUNERALS. 143 

as wide a contrast as could be imagined to the mutes who 
are hired to stand at the doors of the house in a cere- 
monious English funeral. 

The corpse was laid on its side, as if asleep, beneath a 
bower of green branches, of which the husband, with the 
tears nmning down his black cheeks, removed a few, that 
I might look at his poor dead wife. I should not have 
known that she was dead as, owing to the dark skin, my 
unpractised eye could not detect the ch«mge in the com- 
plexion and appearance caused by death. 

It is customary amongst the natives to bury the dead 
in a sitting posture; the nails of the corpse are also 
burnt off before burial, and the hands tied together, and 
Binnahan seemed pleased to tell me that with regard to 
her mother the ceremony of burning the nails had been 
omitted ; both that and the tying of the hands are said 
to be measures of precaution lest the deceased should work 
his or her way up again to the world's surface, and alarm 
the living not only by " walking," but, if a man, by using his 
spears (which are always buried with him) upon his former 
friends. As the funeral follows close upon the death, the 
practice of burning off the nails must at least possess, one 
would think, the recommendation of deciding any doubt 
about life being extinct or merely suspended, and a native 
whom we heard of as having shouldered himself out of the 
ground, above which he lived for some time afterwards, 
may possibly have owed his revival to these last offices of 
his somewhat hasty friends. 

I now did my best to make a proper suit of clothes for 
Bhmahan, preparatory to sending her to the Government 
school, during which interval she was constantly visited 



Digitized 



by Google 



144 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

by her cousins and her aunt, the latter giving me to 
understand, with the air of a person who makes a family 
arrangement, that the girls should leave off coming as 
soon as her niece had recovered her spirits, or, as the good 
lady expressed it, "when Binnahan never more mother 
thinkum." I was glad, however, to find tliat this period 
of forgetfulness did not arrive. The child's grief soon ex- 
hausted itseK, but so far from forgetting her mother, she 
never seemed better pleased than to be reminded of her. 

I could not help laughing at myself the first time that 
my new charge started for school Hosa's two little 
sisters good-naturedly came to act as convoy, but the 
black cousins, whom I had not invited, appeared also, 
and fell into the ranks of the escort. Now the whole 
party was barefoot, and Binnahan's preference for going 
to school as the crow flies necessitated a short cut over 
stubble fields, from which the white feet instinctively 
shrank, but which seemed good smooth walking to the 
hard little hoofs of the others. 

I had heard so much of the invincible attractions of the 
bush, and the impossibility of preventing a native from 
running back to it, that my mind misgave me on the point 
about which I had least for fear, namely, that she would 
not return at dinner-time but rather take pot-luck with 
her relations on some chance dolghite or opossum. Whilst 
I stood watching in our verandah, with the anxiety of a 
hen looking after a foster-duckling, the party divided, 
adding thereby much to my uncertainties ; but afternoon 
arrived, and with it came Binnahan, in a more [than con- 
tented frame of mind, for she seemed extremely pleased 
with the step that she had ascended on life's ladder. 



Digitized 



by Google 



PBOOBESS IN ED UCA TION. 145 

She learned to read very rapidly, the quick sight 
possessed by all natives no doubt much assisting her ; in 
feet, when her father came to see her after she had been 
with us for a few months, she read aloud to him at such 
great length, to convince him of her progress, that his 
fece exhibited in succession the three phases of delight, 
astonishment, and weariness, remindiog me of the sen- 
sations ascribed by Johnson to the readers of * Hudibras/ 

I wish that I could have said that her energy in learn- 
ing to sew equalled that shown in her efibrts to master 
the mysteries of reading ; her backwardness in needlework 
being the more provoking as her eye was so correct. She 
would come in from an hour's play in the garden to 
exhibit herself to me in a mantle of green leaves, put 
together in excellent shape with small bits of stick broken 
to the size of pins, but to construct a piece of dress by 
making a multitude of neat stitches appeared to require 
a perseverance in which her disposition was defective. I 
doubt, however, whether an Anglo-Saxon would have done 
much better who had spent the first eight or nine years 
of life without settled occupations or civilized habits. 

The same keen sight, that enabled her so quickly to 
acquire a knowledge of the alphabet, soon made her 
acquainted with the figures on the clock's face, which at 
half-past twelve she described as being " cut in two, all 
same damper " (dampers or bush bread being of a muffin 
shape), but I found much difficulty in teaching her how 
to tell the time correctly. I could however always trust 
to her to bring me an accurate description of the relative 
positions of the two hands if I wanted to know the hour. 

Binnahan's father, being a native shepherd, and there- 

L 



Digitized 



by Google 



146 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

fore not without a few shillings in his pocket, was anxious 
to commemorate this first visit to his daughter by buying 
her a present, for which he fancied that nothing could be 
so appropriate as a pair of shoes. His ideas of fitness, 
however, did not jump with mine. I had wished, if pos- 
sible, to keep out of Binnahan's head for a year, at least, 
all thoughts of either shoes or boots, as they were expen- 
sive and unnecessary articles of dress. Even on Sundays 
many weU-dressed children came to school barefoot, the 
smartness of whose appearance was in no way diminished 
by their shapely bare legs and feet, whilst those who wore 
boots, on that day and no other, limped like young colts 
that have been shod by a clumsy blacksmith. 

However, the father was not to be gainsaid, and brought 
from a store not only a pair of shoes but also of stockings. 
About an hour afterwards I went into the kitchen and 
found both him and Binnahan silent and melancholy, as if 
a life's hopes had been frustrated ; the shoes were a mis- 
fit, and the store contained none of a proper size ; the 
stockings also were big enough for a woman. I cheered 
up the desponding pair by representing that the shoes 
could be exchanged for a frock, and that the stockings 
might be saved until their owner should grow big enough 
to fill them, and thus we managed to stave off an artificial 
want for a while longer, but luxurious habits increasing 
in Barladong, and Sunday boots becoming general 
amongst Binnahan's schoolfellows, we would not permit 
her to be mortified by goiug to church barefoot, and so 
sent for the shoemaker. " And please, missis," she said 
in an eager whisper as I was directing how the boots 
should be made, " be sure to tell him to put squeak into 



Digitized 



by Google 



SQUEAKING BOOTS. 147 

them/* Her delight on first getting the boots was really 
pretty to see ; she flung her arms round me with joy, the 
boots squeaking as if in sympathy, but they developed a 
feature that we had scarcely noticed hitherto, and Bin- 
nalian's heels now plainly showed themselyes to be of a 
greater length than those of a white person. 

The natives of Western Australia are extremely im- 
pressionable to religious instruction, but Binnahan's un- 
questioning fiftith did not prevent her from occasionally 
making very quaint observations on what she was taught. 
As, for instance, she once asked Bosa what angels had to 
eat in heaven, and receiving for reply that they eat 
nothing, rather than the more simple answer that nothing 
had been revealed on the subject, the removal of one 
difficulty only paved the way for another, and, in much 
perplexity, the querist said — "Then are they always 
(/orbd moorat?'* (i.e. stomach-full.) Another tiine she 
asked if her dead brothers and sisters were gone to 
heaven, and being told that all innocent children would 
be there, she remarked, " Little kangaroo do no harm — 
little kangaroo go too ? " 

Not very long after our taking Binnahan there came 
to the parsonage one day another native child, who 
announced that she was going to live with us, and followed 
me about from room to room, as if incapable of compre- 
hending the denial which I was forced to give her. It 
was a friendless little creature, who did not look more 
than five years old, and who, having no mother, roamed 
hither and thither in company- sometimes of one, some- 
times of another of her relations. 
The last time that I saw her was in chilly wet weather, 



Digitized 



by Google 



148 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

and I tied round her poor little waist a petticoat which 
Binnahan had outgrown, but I almost repented of hav- 
ing done so when I saw at a little distance a native 
woman, whom she had accompanied, denuding the child's 
shoulders of its fur cape, the petticoat being considered 
quite sufficient clothing without other addition. I heard 
that the child died soon afterwards ; but I had also reason 
to believe that it was not before a kind priest from the 
Benedictine Mission of New Norcia, an account of which 
will be found hereafter, had found and taken pity on the 
poor forlorn little one. 

The next occasion of our being asked to adopt a child 
had a touch of the absurd. The wife of a convict who 
had been sent to prison for a fresh offence, applied to us 
for assistance on being thus thrown, of a sudden, upon her 
own resources, and the second time that she came for 
relief she brought with her a pretty little girl of two 
years old, her only child, and gravely requested me to 
adopt it. She had bestowed upon it, at its christening, so 
great a variety of fine names that I could not help think- 
ing that she must have cherished from its birth an idea 
of effecting some such transfer as that which she now 
proposed to me, and that she had been under the impres- 
sion that the names of Angelina and Elfrida, which she 
had given it, would prove as good as a little dowry, and 
would confer on their possessor a claim to a higher grade 
of life. 



Digitized 



by Google 



VARIATIONS IN WEATHER. 149 



CHAPTEE VIII. 

Length of Boramer aud winter — Bapld change of weather — Bull-frog 

— Perplexing sounds — HeiJthiness of hot weather — No palliatiyes to 
heat except sea-breeze — Flies — Ants — Housekeeping difficulties — 
Fleas — Flowers — Baspfoerry-jam bloesoras — Cow-keeping — Gtoats 
and Sabbatarianism — Churning — Scarcity of cheese — Cow-tenting 

— Bells and herd attractiye tooow — Sameness of diet — Australian 
mutton tastes differently to English mutton -~ Bunbury beef — Pink 
eyerlastings — Boad making and mending — *^ Governor Hampton's 
cheeses** — Horses and foals — Colonial gates — Aptness of horses 
to stray — Horse hunting — Obliged to hobble our horse — Horse gets 
rid of side-saddle — *' Gum-suckers " — Headlong riders — Eating a 
dolghiU — Description of one — Evergreen trees — Clearness of at- 
mosphere — " Choosing frocks out of the sky ** — Southern Cross — 
Thunder-storms — Chimney struck — Twisted trees do not attract 
lightning — Suitability of climate to consumptive patients — Pecu- 
liarities of climate — Bishop Salvado*s opinion of it 

The length of the summers in Western Australia was 
^mewhat variable, taking one year with another. The 
hot weather usually began in November, though I have 
also known it to commence a month earlier : and there 
was a similar degree of irregularity with regard to the 
setting-in of the winter rains. I remember that one 
season they began upon the 31st of March, and in 
another that the heat continued very great till the 17th 
of April, when a thunder-storm occurred and broke up 
the weather; but the transition from summer and ex- 
cessive drought to a moist and rainy time was seldom 
otherwise than sudden. 

Nothing more instantaneously marked the change of 
seasons than the sound of the buU-frog, whose business it 



Digitized 



by Google 



150 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTBALIA. 

seemed, like the bull in the funeral of Cock Robin, \o 
toll the knell of the departed summer on the erening of 
the first rainy day. If the winter thus announced had 
been one of ice and snow, there would hare been some- 
thing most lugubrious in the bull-frog's way of heralding 
it, but sounds depend much for their efifect upon the 
circumstances with which we mentally associate them« 
The chirping of the grasshopper, for instance, was dis- 
liked by Bosa, "because it reminded her of summer," 
although the very recollection of summer, with which the 
sound of the chirp is associated, has probably been one of 
the chief reasons that has made the lively little singer so 
popular with poetical writers. Summer, however, as she 
appears in English hedgerows and in the Australian bush, 
wears two distinct aspects, and to a servant's mind the 
idea of that season in Swan Kiver is connected with little 
else than the remembrance of intense heat, that converts 
each ordinary household teisk, in scholastic language, 
into " an imposition." 

In the course of a few weeks the frog seemed to cheer 
up a little, or to give place to a musician in better 
spirits ; for his one continuous mournful note, sounding 
each time as if shot out of his lungs on a sudden, was 
changed to three lively ones, so unlike any which we had 
ever heard from frogs before that we could not for 
several nights determine by what agency they were 
really produced. These notes had such a metallic sound 
that at first I thought the noise came from a blacksmith's 
shop, whilst my husband was equally certain that it was 
a distant cracked piano; eventually I renounced the 
notion of the anvil in favour of a jew's-harp, and to this 



Digitized 



by Google 



TEE BATTLE OF LIFE, 151 

last comparison I adhered, even after we became aware 
that frogs were the performers. 

The rapid lowering of the temperature that accom- 
panied the change from summer to winter was trying to 
most persons, shown in nothing so much as in the 
frequent prevalence of dysentery in -the month of May. 
In fact there never seemed to be so complete an absence 
of illness in Barladong as in the summer, when the 
ground was as hard with heat as if it had been frozen, 
and bad smells were impossible in air which was dry as 
that of an oven: when what had been pretty flower- 
gardens looked no better than patches of stubble, and 
80^ Fahrenheit was by comparison cool and comfortable, 
rather than oppressive. 

When the thermometer was standing at from 96° to 
107^ in the shade, and people were obliged, notwith- 
standing, to work in the harvest-field, and to cook 
dinners, the battle of life might be said to have com- 
menced in good earnest; a fact which the very fowls 
acknowledged by going about with all their feathers in a 
mfiSe, holding them as it were off their skin, in hopes 
that a little fresh air might penetrate. In such weather 
labour was a severe trial, but still it was not unhealthy, 
that is, we very seldom heard of sunstroke or of any 
other sickness; but I cannot help thinking that life 
must wear out faster for such exposure, and it is certain 
that youthful looks are far more fleeting than in England. 

Of means and appliances for making the heat more 
endurable there are scarcely any. I never saw but one 
punkah in the colony, nor was ice ever to be seen except 
at the Governor's, who possessed a freezing machine. 



Digitized 



by Google 



152 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA, 

The sea-breeze is the only palliative, and over the sixty 
parched miles that lay between us and the sea-shore it 
came sweeping up almost every afternoon that the sum- 
mer lasted. Our house did not even boast the advantage 
of a cellar, and yet, in consequence of the dry atmosphere, 
the keeping of meat was less difficult than during hot 
weather in England ; the grand obstacle, in fact, lying 
less in the heat than in the flies, of which it is impossible 
to exaggerate the annoyance. Often, unless we devoured 
our dinner with a Transatlantic haste, the state of our 
plates, even before our hunger was satisfied, was such as 
must be guessed rather than described; the principal 
dish also falling such an easy prey to our tormentors as 
to make the expression piece de resistance a contradiction 
in terms. 

Wire covers were much in vogue for protecting the 
eatables, but we soon gave them up as useless, finding 
that the flies passed imder them with ease upon tables 
that were never level in a climate that warped all articles 
of wood, and we therefore preferred, whilst we sat at 
dinner, to keep the joint covered with a napkin, in 
which, the instant that we had finished our repast, it was 
rolled up bodily, as if in readiness for a pic-nic, the 
bimdle being then tied closely in a thick sack, and sus- 
pended in the verandah for the night. Nor was meat by 
any means the only object attacked by the flies ; even 
unskimmed milk was not always safe from them, and so 
much time was consumed in mere precautionary measiu-es 
that there were days when a housekeeper felt almost in 
despair. 

Ants, too, would perplex us, especially a tiny sort of 



Digitized 



by Google 



ANTS AND FLIES. 153 

black ant, which would swarm over our provisions, and 
even get into tin canisters which had been placed for 
security upon tables standing with their four legs in 
water. It took some pains to discover how the ants 
managed to circumvent the saucers of water, but we 
found that the spiders were their engineers, and that the 
ants had passed over the cobwebs which they had 
stretched between the wall and the table. 

House-flies were so numerous that they left ugly traces 
of themselves upon all that was not originally black, 
destroying wall-papers and the binding of books ; every- 
thing, in fact, which could not be restored with soap and 
water. Ladies' bonnets and white muslin dresses lost 
their freshness unless stowed away on the instant that 
they were taken off, and if people were not perpetually 
cleaning their windows and looking-glasses they refused 
either to reflect or to be seen through. A neighbour of 
ours, who said that he could never see to read a book 
unless he cleaned a window first, wishing the world thereby 
to understand what an exceedingly idle wife he had, 
chose but a poor, and I may say unfair illustration of 
liis lady's failings, so infinitely less idlenass being required 
to produce a similar effect in Western Australia than 
would be the case in England. 

The time at which the house-flies gave us really the 
most vexation was in our mid-day rest, when they 
rendered sleep quite impossible unless the bed was pro- 
tected as against mosquitoes, of which last we had but 
few, excepting close to the river-side or in the neigh- 
bourhood of swampy land. 

But we had this consolation, that all the pests did not 



Digitized 



by Google 



154 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

come together. Ants were busiest in summer-time, but 
intense heat lessened the house-flies considerably, and in 
July and August even blue-bottles seemed ta be ready 
to lay down their arms and to proclaim a two months* 
truce. However, what, we gained in one way we lost in 
another, for at the precise period when the last-named 
enemies discontinued their hostilities the fleas proclaimed 
war, and that in such a manner as to leave no doubt in 
a reasonable mind that their design, had their power 
equalled their blood-thirstiness, was the extermination of 
the whole human race. 

At home fleas are generally supposed to beat a retreat 
before cleanly housemaids, and to a certain extent even 
in Western Australia they have an aversion to the use of 
buckets and brooms ; but in spite of imremitting scrub- 
bings and sweepings, the fleas, with apparently " nil des- 
perandum" for their motto, caused us such nights of 
broken rest that, in suffering from their misdirected 
energy, we wished often and devoutly that the excellent 
man who founded a school of industry for them in London, 
had thought fit to establish a branch seminary in a colony 
where so much larger a class existed of those whom he 
sought to educate. 

With the first commencement of rainy weather the 
mignonette would begin to flower and the peach-trees 
to blossom in our garden. It is curious to observe of the 
latter that those trees which have been propagated by 
grafts invariably lose their leaves at the end of summer, 
whereas seedling peaches follow the laws of the indigenous 
trees and preserve their foliage. As the rainy weather 
continues, flowering bulbs of all kinds, which have been 



Digitized 



by Google 



FLO WEEING TREES, 155 

imported from England and the Cape, ixias especially, 
appear in the greatest beauty ; both they and the annuals 
which we are accustomed to see at home, as well as 
the large scarlet geraniums, revelling in a season which 
though possessing the name of winter has none of its 
home characteristics. Whilst this transformation was 
effecting in the gardens, which had lately looked so 
desolate, the bush was not behindhand in assuming a new 
appearance. The wattle, which is one species of the 
many kinds of Australian acacia, led the yan amongst 
the indigenous flowering trees, and showed its pale yellow 
blossoms before May was over. Later in the rainy season 
the wattle was outvied by the acacia called the " raspberry 
jam," the flowers of which are of the brightest gold colour 
and grow in such abundant clusters that some of these 
trees appear better furnished with flowers than leaves. 
One variety droops like a weeping willow, so that when 
in bloom every separate spray is a long hanging wreath, 
" waving its yellow hair," as Moore says of the acacias in 
Arabia. All the jam-trees are in their chief beauty in 
September, a time of year when heavy westerly gales 
often occur, bringing with them sharp sudden storms 
of rain, broken by bright gleams of sunshine. On such 
days to stand upon a hill-side that commands a tract 
covered with these trees, their flowers at one moment 
obscured by the driving rain and wind, and at the next 
brilliantly lighted up by the sim, is a sight not soon to be 
forgotten. Many of the acacias which I have been descri- 
bing reach the height of 40 feet at least, and are sometimes 
much overgrown by a thick parasite with long trailing 
twdgs, bearing a red waxy-looking flower at Christmas-time. 



Digitized 



by Google 



156 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA, 

Those persons who kept cows were always glad when 
they calved early in the winter months, first because there 
was then a probability of plenty of grass by the time that 
the calf could eat it, and next because they thus secured 
as long a time as possible before the heat prevented them 
from churning. It must not be supposed that grass, in 
the common acceptation of the word, is often made into 
hay ; what were called hayfields in our part of Western 
Australia were for the most part wheat or oat crops, sown 
to be used as hay, and cut green as soon as they came 
into flower. Pasture of all kinds was in fact very precious, 
and we, who generally had a fair amount of grass in the 
winter, were exposed to much annoyance from neighbours 
who made a practice of keeping live-stock without the 
means of feeding it at their own expense. There is no 
need, however, to visit Australia in order to find similar 
stock-owners. In an English village I have known dumb 
animals to be kept in good condition under precisely 
parallel circumstances, and a removal of their owner in 
consequence to a Government institution naively de- 
scribed to us as " Penton Villa " by his friends. Neither 
he nor his friends, however, took up religious groimds in 
pleading excuses for his fancy of feeding his live-stock at 
his neighbour's granary. But one lives and learns. An 
old pensioner, whose children had more than once brought 
pigs into our field and depastured them there as on a 
conmion, deliberately tethered his goats upon our ground 
on one especial Sunday, and because another person pulled 
up the tether pins and told us of the trespass, the pro- 
prietor of the goats appeared at our door as an aggrieved 
party very early on Monday morning, with a request to 



Digitized 



by Google 



GOATS AND SABBATARIANISM. 157 

! see ** his Eeverence." I asked whether the case was not 
one in which a lady would do as well as the clergyman ; 
my visitor replied that it possibly might be such an one, 
*^ if like St. Paul, ma'am, you will hear me patiently," 
and down sat the pensioner as if determined to enact the 
image of patience herself. "I want to know, ma'am," 
he began, " by what rule or authority Pensioner Brown 
dares to pull up the tether of my goats in his lieverence's 
fields?" I evaded the question by begging to be in- 
formed what business the goats had had there, and he 
answered that "it was the Sabbath day." Upon this 
I reminded him that he had asked no permission from 
us, and my observation appeared at once to furnish him 
with a mode of defence. "I could not ask permission, 
ma'am," he answered in a virtuously injured manner, 
"it was the Sabbath day, ma'am. You know, ma'am," 
he continued, " the Bible says we may feed our beasts 
upon that day," and here he lowered his voice conde- 
scendingly on account of my probable ignorance of the 
passage to which he referred, " but ask leave on the Sabbath 
to tether them?" (and at this point his tones rose high 
with moral indignation,) " 0, dear no, ma'am, I could not 
think of doing no such thing I " 

We were often struck by the regularity with which two 
or three days of rain almost always occurred in the other- 
wise hot and dry month of February, generally about the 
thirteenth ; a most beneficent provision of nature, enabling 
the farmers to sow their fields some weeks before the 
regular rains set in, since this, which was called the first 
rain, was followed by a return of extreme heat. Churning 
ends towards the beginning of November, and though I 



Digitized 



by Google 



158 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA, 

have heard of ladies who continued the practice of it 
daily throughout the summer, yet, as no ice is procurable, 
the substitute of cream, scalded in the Devonshire fashion, 
looks at that season far more inviting and appetizing than 
the semi-liquefied butter. But, as a general rule, all 
dairy produce was very costly " over the hills," the price 
of butter, whether salt or fresh, being half-arcrown a 
pound, and milk being so scarce as to be often obtained 
with the greatest difficulty. Cheese, when it could be 
bought, often cost nearly as much as butter, but it was 
only at distant intervals that we were able to procure it, 
and the absence of this sheet anchor of the English larder 
perplexed me sorely when I commenced my colonial 
house-keeping. K a stranger breakfasted with us the 
sight of milk always provoked more or less comment 
upon its scarcity, and discussions of the comparative 
merits of cows and goats. The latter are more commonly 
kept than cows, and that both should be dry is a still 
commoner occurrence. Goat's milk is so rich that, if not 
intended for sale, one feels it no crime to water it ; but 
to milk a goat is back-aching work, and makes one wish 
that the creatures stood upon a pedestal. 

I once found a little fair girl watching a goat and two 
kids by the road-side, and the group looked so pretty that 
I stopped to admire the flock and its shepherdess, when 
she, laying her hand caressingly upon one of the buff- 
coloured innocents, dispersed my romaQce with the words 
" We shall have this for dinner next Sunday." The usual 
feeding-ground of the cattle belonging to the pensioners 
and other towns-people of Barladong was what was dalled 
the " Government run," a phrase which denoted all such 



Digitized 



by Google 



CONVICT HERDSMAN. 159 

bush in the vicinity as had not been appropriated to pri- 
vate holders* A poor old fellow, who had been a convict, 
eked out a scanty living by acting as cow-tender to this 
ini8cellan^)us herd, consisting of some twenty-five head of 
rawboned cattle, mostly young stirks, which he drove out 
every morning and brought home again at night. For 
the care of each animal the cow-tender received twopence 
a week from its owner, and lived on the proceeds of his 
• gains in a little mud hut which no English person would 
have supposed to be the residence of a human being, 
excepting for the fact that a little clay oven stood beside 
it As each beast wore a bell upon its neck, in order that 
its whereabouts amongst the trees and stony heights 
might be ascertained, there was an amount of merry 
tinkling, when the herd started at sunrise, which some- 
times proved so fascinating to our cow in her field, that 
she would jump the fence in a most spirited and hunter- 
like fashion in order to make one of the party. The 
exhilarating noise, however, must have been almost the 
only attraction, for the much-frequented " Government 
run'' aflforded scarcely any pasture, excepting in the 
winter. A fixed determination to calve in the bush was 
another of our cow's peculiarities, and on one such occa- 
sion neither she nor her calf could be discovered until 
after much search, and the promise of five shillings to 
the person who should find her. She reappeared at the 
end of several days with a very fine calf, followed by a 
little Irish boy who had found out her hiding place in a 
thicket at two miles distance. 

If we had not kept an abundant supply of poultry, and 
secured ourselves also a regular supply of milk by giving 



Digitized 



by Google 



160 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

our cow bran mashes throughout the greater part of the 
year, the lack of cheese and vegetables would have re- 
stricted our bill of fare almost entirely to mutton. This 
last is of excellent quality, and the perceptible difference of 
taste that it possesses to English mutton has led, perhaps, 
to the colonial opinion (in which I do not coincide) that the 
flavour is much superior to that of mutton at home. The 
dried-up appearance of the sheep-runs, in summer, causes 
a new-comer to wonder what the sheep can find to eat 
upon them, until his eye ceases to regard the colour of 
green as an indispensable accompaniment to the existence 
of grass. In so vast a country as Western Australia, 
however, the description of one part of it cannot serve as 
a picture for the whole. Some travellers overland to 
Albany, (who had left Barladong in its parched mid- 
summer condition, and who wrote us an account of their 
eleven days' journey,) described the delight which they 
felt at finding an abundance of fresh grass and lovely 
flowers at that season of the year in the cooler southern 
districts. The district of the Vasse in the south-west of 
the colony, where I have been told that a blanket is never 
willingly dispensed with for the whole of even one night 
throughout the year, produces very good cheese ; and the 
beef which the neighbouring district of Bunbury supplies 
to Perth at Christmas would do credit to a London 
market. 

The bush immediately around us showed very little 
variety in the low-growing flowers, whole tracts being 
covered with nothing but pink everlastings in such im- 
mense profusion as to redden the ground at a distance. 
There were also yellow everlastings very large and double. 



Digitized 



by Google 



PINK EVERLASTINGS. 161 

and a flower which children call " kangaroo foot," (being 
shaped like one,) the right name of which is marmpia 
mirdbilis. In the latter end of the winter months it was a 
great pleasure to set aside some particular afternoon for 
the purpose of taking a party of children into the bush to 
gather everlastings, and to drink tea out of doors. The 
fevourite spot was Mount Douraking, where we could sit 
and watch the effect of sxmset over the vast forest, whilst 
the half-dozen children whom we had taken with us, Bin- 
nahan as eager as the rest, ran about, remaining out of 
sight until they could reappear in triumph upon a high 
mass of rock above us, with their arms full of rose-coloured 
flowers. 

In many bush huts, when the women have a taste for de- 
coration, pink everlastings are tied up in thick bunches and 
inserted in a close compact row between the top of the hut 
wall and the sloping edge of the uncoiled rafters, so as to 
form a cornice, beautiful in itself, and also in picturesqtie 
harmony with the rude materials of the dwellings. 

It need scarcely be said that the season of the flowers 
is the pleasantest time either for riding or driving in the 
bush, and perhaps the forest was never more attractive than 
in the month of July, when each individual red gum-tree 
looked like an enormous flowering myrtle, and was covered 
to its very sunmiit with white blossoms. But at that 
period of mid-winter the days were short and the roads 
were in many places full of miry holes, and we therefore 
preferred to postpone our distant excursions until the 
flowers upon the trees were fading and those upon the 
ground were in perfection. It was a matter of some sur- 
prise to us, at first, that large portions of the roads should 



Digitized 



by Google 



162 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

be 80 bad in spite of the many parties of convicts em- 
ployed upon them, but to provide occupation for the men 
at a distance from the temptations of the towns was natu- 
rally the prime object with the Gt)vemment, whilst the 
state of the highways was a secondary consideration to 
the colonists who undertook the Government contracts, 
compared with the ready-money which was received for 
feeding the men.* 

The persons on whom at that time the direction both 
of the making and repairing of the roads chiefly, if not 
entirely, devolved were the warders, (I remember a band- 
master having the charge of a road party,) whose oppor- 
tunities of acquiring a knowledge of the business had been 
probably about equal to those of the pickpockets for w horn 
they laid out the work. The principle on which the roads 
were mended was to spend a great number of months on 
one spot, improving a tract of two or three miles, and 
then to remove the men to a distance, it may be of twenty, 
leaving the improved bit as an oasis that allowed the 
driver of a dog-cart the luxury of half an hour's fast trot- 
ting. In a few months' time the oasis would present a spec- 
tacle far worse than if it had never been meddled with, and 
at every hundred yards or oftener the dog-cart would have 
to make a fresh track for itself amongst the trees that 
grew alongside the so-called thoroughfare. I may make 
an exception, however, in favour of an application of 
wooden pavement by means of which the old sandy far- 

* Since our return to England the management of the roads has been 
placed upon an entirely new system. A ** road-board " is now formed in 
each district, consisting of the principal inhabitants ; a certain amount of 
convict labour is placed at its disposal by the Goyemment, and the oontiol 
over the highways is lodged in its hands. 



Digitized 



by Google 



"^ GOVERNOR HAMPTOITS CHEESESr 163 

rows between Perth and Green Mount are now replaced 
by a good solid causeway fit for fast travelling. The 
miles of sand over which I passed when this road was in 
its transition state have since been bottomed with sections 
of great forest trees, the shape and size of which are best 
described by their ordinary name of " Governor Hamp- 
ton's Cheeses." They were laid down during his term of 
office, and have produced a result which must dispose all 
travellers, who had ever passed over the road in its ori- 
ginal condition, to bestow on him a benediction as on a 
second " General Wada" 

Nothing surprised me more than the much greater 
amount of work which is got out of horses in Australia 
than in England, especially when the comparatively small 
amount of care bestowed upon them is taken into con- 
sideration. Whereas the horse of an English gentleman 
is kept with as much precision as if intended for exhibition 
in a glass-case, Australian horses are really treated with 
no more ceremony than at home falls to the lot of a 
donkey. In all seasons and in all sorts of weather they 
are left in the open fields or in the bush; they seem 
equally to disregard the storms and rain of winter and 
the burning suns of summer, and even when the shelter of 
a shed or stable is at their command, they appear to 
prefer exposure. Often one sees them hung by the bridle 
upon a gate-post for hours together, or standing harnessed 
at some door for an indefinite amount of time, without 
even a boy at their head. Mares with young foals are 
ridden or driven as the convenience of their owners may 
dictate, but then, to make amends, the foal has the pri- 
vilege of joining the party. 



Digitized 



by Google 



164 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTBALIA. 

The first day after I got to Barladong we saw a string 
of equestrians, male and female, coming over the high 
narrow bridge, one of the ladies being mounted on a mare 
closely followed by a foal which had, as I afterwards 
learned, thus ambled forty miles in company with its 
parent. Our English eyes thought this sufficiently strange, 
but they were still more ttstonished when a neighbour 
drove up to our house in a " trap " with a foal running 
behind like an awkward overgrown puppy. Our expe- 
rience of its vagaries did not tend to dispel the notion 
that we had brought from England that foals were best 
left at home ; in fact, it seemed to us a case of too much 
being taken for granted on both sides, the master sup- 
posing that during his half-hour's visit to us the mare 
would feel it incumbent on her to look after the foal, 
whilst the foal, with a hypothesis of its own that there was 
plenty of time to spare, went making calls all round the 
town and looking into every farm-yard, in preference to 
remaining with its mother. When our visitor bade us 
farewell and we accompanied him to our slip-rail, where 
his trap was standing, to see him safely off, no foal was 
there ; we were therefore compelled to send our man in 
search of the young vagabond, who found it, after an 
hour's chace, at the police barracks on the other side of 
the river. 

I have already spoken of slip-rails as makeshifts con- 
sequent upon the scarcity of clever carpenters; but it 
sometimes happens that when one of the guild is forth- 
coming who can put a gate together, another obstacle 
arises from the difficulty of procuring hinges. In this 
case colonial invention supplies the place of a lower 



Digitized 



by Google 



COLONIAL GATES. 165 

hinge by a glass bottle, care being specially taken to 
select one which, with regard to its original purpose, 
would have been censured as unreasonably dishonest as 
to the cavity at the bottom. The bottle is then buried 
beside the gate-post neck downwards, and the lower end 
of the upright of the gate being made longer than the 
other is set within the hollow bottom. An upper hinge 
is contrived by passing the topmost end of the upright 
through a round hole in a piece of board nailed on the 
summit of the gate-post. Such primitive hinges answer 
much better and last much longer than anyone would be 
inclined to suppose, and are often seen upon newly-cleared 
farms. Inverted bitter-beer bottles buried in a row to 
haK their length are also used in some colonial gardens 
as edgings to flower-beds. If the rails of fences are not 
kept in the most perfect condition, and made of soimd 
strong wood, the owners of horses are constantly incon- 
venienced by their getting away into the bush, where, 
joining company with others, they will often run wild for 
months together. As most of the horses have been foaled 
in the bush, and their first impulse on regaining their 
freedom is to hanker after youthful scenes, it is generally 
possible to guess the direction in which the animal will 
travel, and, if no time is lost in sending a native to track 
the hoof-marks, a few hours will suffice for its recap- 
ture, even in the driest weather ; otherwise the proprietor 
has to trust to accidental information for learning his 
horse's whereabouts, and when this is ascertained he 
must furthermore expend a guinea in having him " brought 
in." The sum may seem vexatiously heavy to pay, but is 
fiairly earned, for horse hunting requires such hard and 



Digitized 



by Google 



166 SKETCHES IN WESTEBN AUSTRALIA. 

reckless riding that few men who have passed their first 
youth retain sufficient nerve for the business. 

Ground that is strewed with lumps of broken granite 
must be galloped over as unhesitatingly as if it were 
English turf in a chase where the advantages would al 
first sight appear wholly on the side of the loose horses ; 
the mounted ones, however, compensated for the weight 
they carry by the inteUigence that guides them, succeed 
at last in turning the troop into the right direction, along 
which rush pursuers and pursued, with cracking of the 
stock whips and tearing up of the ground as if men and 
horses were alike dementedj the bells worn by many of 
the loose animals increasing the confusion of sounds. 
We once had a horse for whom a cavalcade of this descrip- 
tion possessed as irresistible an attraction as the tinkling 
herd had for our cow, so that the accidental passing of a 
party of, horse hunters, outside the field in which he was 
grazing, was sure to make him attempt to follow, and we 
were therefore compelled to hobble him whenever he was 
turned out, in spite of which impediment he got about so 
nimbly, by a series of jumps, that Binnahan often called 
me to look at " horse galloping in jail things." It then 
occurred to my husband that the universal trick of buck- 
jumping that prevails amongst Australian horses might 
be traced to the no less general practice of hobbling 
them. An animal that is hobbled can move from one 
spot to another only by an action that resembles the 
earlier processes of buck-jumping, and the frequent 
necessity for thus artificially crippling the creature 
renders the action so habitual that at last it becomes 
hereditary. 



Digitized 



by Google 



EABNING A SIDE-SADDLE. 167 

A horse that we purchased had the strange history 
(with which, however, we were not acquainted until after 
buying him) of having escaped into the bush with a side- 
saddle on his back, and of having remained there running 
wild for a year, when he was again caught, but in an 
unsaddled condition. How or by what means the horse 
had managed to rid himself of the encumbrance remains 
of course a mystery, but the recollection of it haunted 
him to the extent of making him dangerous to his rider, 
as, whenever anything alarmed him, he seemed to think 
that the old saddle was still upon his back, and that its 
removal required frantic exertions. 

The young people of Western Australia naturally find 
their chief amusement in their horses, as without them 
they would have no means of getting about from place to 
place, or of enjoying any intercourse with their friends 
and neighbours. A girl, therefore, looks upon a side- 
saddle of her own as a possession much to be coveted, 
and one that she will take not a little trouble to obtain. 
I heard of some young ladies who, with this object in 
view, most industriously set to work picking gum until 
they had collected enough to exchange with a storekeeper 
for the much-desired prize. To make this intelligible, I 
must] explain that this gum which flows from the wattle- 
trees is almost identical with gum-arabic, and is used in 
Manchester for the same purposes, chiefly stiffening 
calicos, so that at times there is a considerable demand 
for it, the storekeepers giving at such periods threepence 
a pound in ready-money for as much as can be brought 
to them. It is also used as a sort of sweetmeat or 
lollipop, whence the saubrig[uet " gum-suckers," as applied 



Digitized 



by Google 



168 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

to the young colonists, owing to their habit of never 
passing a wattle-tree without putting a piece into their 
mouth. 

I think it is Washington Irving who conceives butchers* 
boys to be the only existing type of the once famous 
knights-errant; a reflection forced upon him from the 
flying pace with which the young apprentices, meat- 
basket on arm, ^dash along the roads ; but had he only 
extended his travels to Western Australia, he would 
certainly not have thought the order of headlong riders 
so near extinction as he had supposed. All home ideas 
about saving a horse's feet are set at defiance, a hand 
gallop on the hard road being the approved rate of speed; 
and the excitement of the pace seems to constitute the sole 
enjoyment of riding, for of any pleasure to be derived 
from scenery the colonists appeared to me to have little 
idea, which I attributed in part to the habit they have 
naturally acquired of regarding the bush as something 
to be cleared away and got rid o£ It would, perhaps, be 
more difficult to accoimt for the almost total exemption 
of their horses from spavin. We did, however, find in 
one young settler an exception to the nil admirari school, 
and the pleasure of a ride which we once took with him 
. was not a little enhanced by the rarity of meeting a third 
person to whom we might express our pleasure when we 
saw anything beautiful with the certainty of receiving a 
sympathizing answer. This ride was taken shortly before 
the season for sheepwashing, in October, when the bush 
was green with grass, and water was lying in the still 
deep pools in the rocky beds of the gullies. There was 
no path, nor could my unpractised eyes discover any dis- 



Digitized 



by Google 



A DOLGHITE. 169 

tinguishmg features to point out our road as he led ns 
mile after mile, winding in and out through the intermin- 
able trees. We arrived at length, I remember, upon a 
large flat expanse of granite even with the ground, where 
there was a round hole in the rock, as perfectly smooth 
and circular as if made by art, and fall of water, around 
which some cattle had gathered; but not a human creature 
did we meet till near home in the evening, when we passed 
and spoke to a merry-looking little old native who was 
coming along upon a pony to bring rations to the shepherd. 
I have not forgotten the dinner which we had on our 
return, for it was an experimental one on a bush animal 
called a ddghite, which Kosa had consented to dress 
according to the directions in a cookery-book for serving 
up a roasted rabbit. Not that Bosa had any objections 
to dolffhites in particular, though I do not think that she 
had ever eaten one, still less had she ever tasted a rabbit ; 
but for all bush meat that was not kangaroo she had a 
general feeling something between a contempt and a 
prejudice, for which she never gave any other reason than 
that "it smelt wild." The dolghUe proved, as we had 
expected, so exceedingly like a rabbit when cooked that 
we could detect no difference in taste, although we were 
in the secret ; in fact, if the dolghite is cut up as for a 
fricassee the slight difference in the shape of the two 
animals is unperceived, and the flesh of both being 
white the deception is complete. The parallel, however, 
does not extend to their dispositions, for the confidence of 
a dolghite is so diflScult to obtain that my husband piqued 
himself not a little in persuading one, that was given him 
as a pet, to be on terms of even distant civility with us ; 



Digitized 



by Google 



170 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

and when we had so far gained his trust as that he would 
eat bread and milk whilst we were looking at him we 
felt quite triumphant. His fur was rather long and 
extremely soft and silky, of a very pretty grey colour, and 
his tail somewhat shorter than a cat's. It is a fur whicli 
is very eflfective when bordered or lined with rose colour, 
but if exposed to much wear it soon becomes shabby. 
The strangest-looking part of him was his hind legs, 
which very much resembled those of a fowl, and made him 
appear as if he was an intermediate cousin of both birds 
and beasts. He came of a family that is given to burrow- 
ing, and my husband gave him, as he thought, an unex- 
ceptionable home in the bottom of our dining-room cup- 
board ; but our ungrateful pet might have contained the 
very soul of Baron Trenck himself, to judge from the way 
in which he at once set to work to mine through the wall 
into our bed-room. I forget where we secured him after- 
wards, but the ruling spirit would not be repressed ; he 
had a passion for sapping and mining, which he practised 
to such an extent that we might be thankful he did not 
bring the house down. Just as we had succeeded in 
making him devoid of all anxiety in our company, and 
quite content in the evening to join the family circle 
together with the other members of our mSnageriey it so 
happened that he found the house door open, and stroll- 
ing out, was perhaps seized with a fit of home sickness, 
for we never saw him afterwards. Our attention having 
been occupied at the time with affairs of importance we 
did not at first miss him, and the disappointment that we 
felt at our loss, when we discovered it, was greater than we 
might have experienced for a more engaging creature, on 



Digitized 



by Google 



SAMENESS OF FOLIAGE. 171 

account of the difficulties which we had met and over- 
come in conquering his natural timidity, 

I must now return to the subject of the bush, from 
which the dcHghiie and his subterrene tastes have led me. 
The colour of the leaves in the Australian forest is of a 
browner and more sombre-looking green than is seen in 
the foliage of our deciduous trees at home, and this cir- 
cumstance, combined with that of the trees being ever- 
greens, causes most English persons to pine once a year 
for that freshness of spring-time to which they were 
accustomed in their own land, and to regret that in the 
southern hemisphere it is represented only by the first 
shooting of the cornfields and the early leaves of a few 
fruit trees foreign to the soiL I cannot say, however, that 
I ever felt any blank of this kind for which the abundance 
of the flowers did not, to my mind, make ample com- 
pensation. Nevertheless, so much poetical thought has 
been inspired by the four seasons, that I have sometimes 
wondered whether a country possessing only half as many 
could ever prove prolific in poets. From this want of 
change in the face of nature, this constant sameness of 
the foliage of the trees, the young people of Australia are 
at a disadvantage when compared with those of England ; 
since much which is written by the poets and illustrated 
by the painters of the old coimtry can touch no answering 
chord in their remembrances of the world around them ; 
while nature, as she has appeared to their own eyes, has as 
yet found neither painter nor poet to interpret her. 

Tennyson's description of a copse bursting into bud, or 
a picture of Copley Fielding's representing a landscape 
nnder a haze, would neither of them carry its full meaning 



Digitized 



by Google 



172 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA, 

to one who had been reared amongst evergreen trees, and 
in the clear atmosphere of Australia, It is to this 
elfwticity and purity of the air that the climate of Swan 
Biver owes its healthfulness and its charm— no matter 
how hot the sun has been, nor, how wearisome its fierce 
beams have made the labours of the day, it has no sooner 
sunk below the horizon than the spirits at once revive, 
and a fresh buoyant feeling replaces all sensation o| 
languor ; in the words of Marcellus, though in a diflferent 
sense to that in which he spoke them, " the nights are 
wholesome," many persons making a practice of sleeping 
in their verandahs during the summer months, while 
teamsters habitually pass the night out of doors with 
impunity all the year roimd. 

Whatever might be the deficiencies of the colony we 
could at least say of it as the Roman girl said of her 
country, " Thou hast thy skies ! " No words will better 
convey the idea of the excessive beauty of the sunset 
clouds and the great variety of tints than those of 
Binnahan, who said, as she stood beside me one evening 
watching the west, "My cousin and me used to choose 
our frocks out of the sky." Poor little things ! the "base- 
less fabric" on which they exercised their taste was 
perhaps not more unsubstantial than the clothing on them 
at the time. Often on summer nights we used to spread 
out an opossum rug in the garden, and sitting upon it 
watch the stars, the clear air giving them a size and 
brilliancy which Michael Lamboume, in * Kenil worth * did 
not exaggerate when he said that our "northern blinkers 
are but farthing candles" compared with those that 
sparkle in the south. 



Digitized 



by Google 



SOUTHERN CROSS. 17S 

I believe that most persons on first seeing the Southern 
Cross feel a degree of disappointment, arising probably 
fix)m the name having led them to expect to see a con- 
stellation completely cruciform, instead of four stars, not 
quite of the same magnitude, representing only the ex- 
treme points of the cross; another reason also may be 
the low position in the horizon in which, as a ship nears 
the ^uator, the cross first rises into view. The constel- 
ktion vindicates its name when vertical, and grows the 
more upon the mind, like other beautiful things, the 
oftener it is gazed upon. Without its " pointers," how- 
ever, as the two splendid stars are called that accompany 
it, the Cross would lose much of its attraction ; one of 
these stars can be perceived, even by the naked eye, to 
change colour, reminding one in so doing of a revolving 
light at sea. 

The " star shower " which was so eagerly watched in 
England on the night of the thirteenth of November, 
186G, was invisible in our latitude, but the pleasure that 
we took in a summer night's stroll was constantly enhanced 
by the sight of bright meteors crossing the sky. Our 
thimder-storms were not many, and those by which the 
colony is visited chiefly hang upon the sea-coast, in proof 
of which I need only say that whereas at Fremantle the 
lightning conductors were in the proportion of one to 
each house, there were much fewer at Perth, whilst in our 
neighbourhood, at sixty miles distance from the sea, there 
was but one dwelling so provided. During five years 
I only remember the occurrence of two storms that could 
be called serious, in one of which a chimney on our 
house was slightly struck. None of us were injured, 



Digitized 



by Google 



174 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

though at the moment that I heard the plaster fall from 
the chimney I felt a sudden sharp prick as if the end 
of a red-hot wire had entered the back of my neck ; an 
instant afterwards my husband ran into the room firom 
the verandah where he had been watching the storm, to 
see if I was killed, having himself experienced a similar 
sensation to mine in one of his temples, but with greater 
force, as the shock had seemed to pass downwards through 
his whole body to the ground. We ran into the kitchen 
to see if the servants were hurt, and finding Bosa and 
Binnahan quite safe though much frightened my husband 
begged us all to kneel down whilst he returned thanks 
for our safety. This was on Advent Simday, and we had 
but just returned from church, where the rolling of the 
thunder and plashing of the rain upon the wooden shin- 
gles of the roof had rendered much of the service in- 
audible. The clap following the flash which struck the 
chimney did not appear to me so tremendous as others 
that I had heard, and my husband said that he perceived 
no soimd at all. Possibly we were both more or lesa 
stunned, for some of our neighbours said that they had 
never in their lives known such a peal of thunder. A 
policeman's wife standing at a window had her cheek 
blistered by the lightning, and the warder of the convict 
depot received a shock of electricity, such as we had 
experienced, in his hand whilst in the act of raising it to 
tilt an accumulation of water off a canvas awning. Bishop 
Salvado mentions that the natives usually take refuge 
from thunder-storms beneath twisted trees, "aZfeert tor- 
tuosiy' and adds that he had never known a tree of this 
kind to be struck with lightning, I suppose that the sort 



Digitized 



by Google 



WHIBLWIKD8, 175 

of tree to which he alludes is one that is commonly called 
the fluted gum, with a stem resembling a twisted Eliza- 
bethan pillar. 

Whirlwinds we were well accustomed to, and the sound 
of one of them coming up was a signal for shutting all 
doors and windows immediately, to prevent the ruthless 
scattering of our papers and letters over the garden, though 
the untidy effect thus produced was generally the extent 
of the damage. On one occasion, however, a large piece 
of the thatch was whirled off our house by the sudden 
action of the air, which had been perfectly trtinquil a few 
minutes previously. There is something very grand in 
the roaring of the wind amongst the forest trees that 
precedes the approach of a reaUy heavy storm. 

The great point of superiority enjoyed by the colony of 
Western Australia over its neighbours on the eastern 
shores of the continent is its complete freedom from the 
scourge of dust-storms and hot winds, and perhaps to 
this immunity may be partly owing the extraordinary 
suitability of the climate of Swan River to weak lungs. 
We not only met several persons who told us that in this 
colony they enjoyed a relief from affections of the chest 
to which in England they had been always victims, but 
we were also intimately acquainted with two cases of 
real pulmonary disease, which when we first visited the 
patients we expected to terminate fatally in a few w eeks 
or even days, and yet the progress of the complaint was 
arrested by the warm weather, and both the sufferers 
recovered to an extent that admitted of their fulfilling 
the ordinary duties of life. Unfortunately I kept no 
daily register of the thermometer, and can therefore only 



Digitized 



by Google 



176 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

point to the effect of the climate upon certain states of 
health or disease in proof of its virtues. 

The fearlessness with which people can remain out of 
doors at night and can continue their day's labour in 
spite of the sun, are the two points which most excite the 
wonder of a stranger. Khourabene's " old master " told 
me that he once drove his team for many miles upon a 
day that the sun-heat stood at 145'^ Fahrenheit. "I 
started/* he said, " in the morning with four bay horses, 
but as the day went on, they became so covered with foam 
that I seemed to be driving white ones." On the other 
hand Binnahan in using the expression "glass frost," 
showed plainly that she knew ice by sight, and early 
risers in the winter would find the puddles frozen, though 
in the course of five years we never knew more than 
one occasion when the ground continued hard in shady 
places throughout the day. That one exception occurred 
during the extremely dry winter of 1865, when the frosts 
were more severe than had been known for fifteen or 
twenty years, and an old colonist, who perhaps forgot that 
her increasing age made her more susceptible of cold, 
informed me in an oracular manner that "the seasons 
were changing," and that she " should not be surprised if 
we was to have a fall of snow." But, unfortimately for 
her reputation as a weather-wise woman, no snowstorm 
came to give her the satisfaction of saying that she had 
expected it. 

Perhaps I may be allowed, though at the risk of some 
repetition, to close my own description of the West 
Australian climate with that of Bishop Salvado, than 
whom no one, not excepting even the aborigines, is better 



Digitized 



by Google 



BISHOP SALVADO'8 BEMARK8 ON CLIMATE. 177 

qualified to pronounce an opinion upon it. " The climate 
of Swan Eiver," says he, " is not only healthier than that 
of any other Australian colony, but may be pronounced also 
to be one of the very best in the whole world. The heat 
of summer, though it sometimes reaches 34° of Keaumur, 
is not stifling, and people can work out of doors without 
dread of injury, though exposed to the full force of the 
sun. Those hot winds that cause so much annoyance in 
the other Australian colonies are unknown here, and we 
inhale the fresh sea-breeze from eleven o'clock in the 
forenoon until sundown. The atmosphere of the winter's 
day is temperate and delightful after the rising of the 
gun, but the thermometer sinks to four degrees above 
zero at three or four o'clock in the morning. Frosts are 
frequent although snow is unknown. The summer nights 
are refreshed by heavy dews, and sometimes by rain in 
January " (this last occurred only once in our observation 
during five years) "which in that hot season is of the 
greatest benefit. Sleeping in the open air in the midst 
of the forests, on fine nights, is unhealthy neither in 
summer nor winter, least of all with the accompaniment 
of a good fire. The prevalent disorders are not fatal, 
and those which occur most frequently are dysentery and 
ophthalmia." 



y 



Digitized 



by Google 




178 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 



CHAPTER IX. 

Natural history often considered a dry study — People of this opinion 
had better skip Chapters IX. and X. — Garrison of cats — How it 
is disposed of — Cats as playthings — Cat brings in yellow Uxaid 
and green snake — Bob-tailed Guana — Scarcity of scorpions and 
abundance of lizards — Ubiquity of bronze lizard — ** Mountain 
Devil " — Similarity to granite lichens — Timothy missing — Brought 
back by smiling boy — Dies, and obliged to be buried for want of 
arsenical soap — Untameable Noombat — Supposed pig in cabbages— 
Impossible to identify, satisfactorily, creature called Bunny-ar — Tra- 
dition of alligator — Black snake — Binnahan's escape — ''Bunch of 
black-puddings " — Palmer-worms — Trap^ioor spiders — Walking- 
stick insects — Present of kangaroo — Kangaroo's mode of self- 
defence — Dangerous guest at meal-times — Jacky drinks sugar- 
beer — Little old native brings dog — The chase — New propensity 
— Jacky succumbs to privation from beer — Kangaroo hops away with 
baby — Modes of dressing flesh of kangaroo — Fur counterpanes — 
Kangaroo rats and ''hoodies" — Dog fails to make distinctions — 
A 'domestic tyrant — Emu's feathers — Opossum — Bishop Salvado's 
opinion to be taken with reservation — Opossum's noiseless mode of 
walking — Supernumerary daw — Various hiding-places tried by 
Possie ; finally selects carpet-bag — Fondness for flowers — I am 
obliged to admit that Possie eats birds — Possie plays tmant — 
Eetums to supper — Opossum's mode of eating apricots — Possie and 
her daughter — Domestic duties — Fondness for society — Possie 
supposed to have rejoined her relations — Tender retrospections. 

When Goldsmith began to write his * History of Ani- 
mated Nature/ Johnson foretold of the work that it would 
prove "as interesting as a Persian tale," but the same 
great authority has also said, in the epitaph written for 
his tomb, that Goldsmith had the magic art of " adorning 
every subject that he touched." In the absence of such 
gifted hands wherewith to array natural history, there are 
aany persons to whom its study oflTers small attraction. 



Digitized 



by Google 



EEAVT ODDS. 179 

and I would warn such readers, who may have followed me 
thus far, that they had better skip the present chapter 
and the next also, both of which will contain little more 
than a descriptive list of a few of those birds, beasts, 
reptiles, and insects which flourished in our Australian 
house and garden, or which came imder our immediate 
notice in our short excursions in the neighbourhood. 

To begin therefore — on our arrival at the parsonage 
we found no less than six cats already in possession. It 
is true that the garrison wore a look of great starvation, 
but when we considered that possession was nine points of 
the law, and that each cat was proprietor of an equal 
number of lives, and that aU seemed determined to hold 
the premises against us to the last gasp, we thought that 
the odds were heavy against us, the new-comers. The 
cats followed up their advantages with great spirit, carry- 
ing our provisions by assault, and baffling us by their 
superior local information, which enabled them to effect 
an entrance, all six together, in the middle of the night, 
through two unglazed panes of a bed-room window which 
had escaped our notice. 

The ringleader, whose many scars and almost total loss 
of ears seemed to betoken the champion of his clan, met 
an honourable death from the gun, tind a native named 
Nyiddel happening to call upon us just then with one of 
his wives, we encouraged him to capture the cat which 
was second in conmiand, and to carry it away as his prey, 
natives esteeming cats as good eating, though shy of saying 
80 for fear of being laughed at by the " white fellows." 

One we kept as a favourite, and the fortunes of the 
other three I forget ; but my carelessness as to their fate 



Digitized 



by Google 



ISO SKETCHES IN WESTEBN AUSTRALIA. 

is a proof of the alteration tkat a few years can effect in 
the value of property, for cats in the first settling of the 
colony were worth ten shillings each, and not to be lightly 
parted with. Kittens, however, appeared to be allowed 
to spring up in unlimited numbers in the lone houses in 
the bush, owing perhaps to the scarcity of any other sort 
of children's playthings in such localities ; and I remem- 
ber seeing a little only daughter in a solitary home in the 
forest, who in respect of mates was as badly off as Words- 
worth's ** Lucy Fell " on her " wide moor," amusing her- 
self with three generations of cats for her sole toys, the 
numerical strength of the party amounting to eight. 

The privileged pussy that we retained brought to us a 
few days afterwards, as if pleased to show us a natural 
curiosity, a bright yellow lizard beautifully marked with 
small patches of black, and to the best of my recollection, 
twenty-two inches in length. We never saw another 
exactly like it, though I afterwards espied one in the buA 
that seemed of a similar length and shape, but of a dull 
drab colour like that of the decayed leaves over which it 
was running. 

The snout of both creatures was long and slender, pre- 
senting a striking contrast to that of the lizard which the 
colonists call the " bob-tailed " guana, or in colonial pro- 
nunciation " gew-anna," whose head and snout form an 
obtuse oval, whilst the tail looks as if amputated by some 
accident, giving the animal a most singular and quaint 
appearance. These bob-tailed lizards are covered with 
large armour-like scales, so much the colour of ironstone 
gravel as readily to escape observation ; indeed the only 
one that I am aware of having seen, excepting in a 



Digitized 



by Google 



LIZARDS OF MANY COLOURS, 181 

Stuffed condition, was trodden upon by my husband's 
horse, which had set its foot upon the head of the poor 
animal evidently without having distinguished it from 
the pebbles of the road. 

In an excursion that we once made, towards the end of 
the rainy season, we were fortunate enough to come upon 
two specimens together of a lizard of exactly the same 
shape as that of the " bob-tails," but of much brighter 
colours, sunning themselves in a sandy spot whete they 
barely left us room to pass without driving over one of 
them. These must have been fully a foot long, with large 
heads and stumpy tails, their backs broad and of a bright 
green, the whole under-part of the body being a sort of 
rose colour. In fact they had a great variety of tint, for 
on my husband jumping down and clasping one of the 
pair round the middle to give a good look at it, the 
offended party opened a mouth like a blue cavern. Our 
little native Binnahan told me that such a lizard had 
once bitten her mother through the thumb-nail, but my 
husband's examination of the mouth made him doubt the 
fact, since he .could discover no teeth whatever. 

The next curiosity which the cat brought me was of a 
le« innocent description. I found her on her hind legs 
one morning in a kind of waltz with something that she held 
up in her fore paws, and, as at first I mistook her play- 
thing for a branch of pale green brier, I was not a little 
startled when I found it to be a snake which she had just 
killed. This was the only snake I ever saw in our house, 
in fact there were so many lizards about us that we 
always felt easy on the score of snakes, as the two will 
not live in company. 



Digitized 



by Google 



182 SKETCHES IN WESTEBN AUSTRALIA, 

The snake is a deadly enemy of the lizard, and though 
I did not particularly like to find even the pretty little 
bronze lizard amongst my clean clothes, nor hidden 
away in boxes through which I was accidentally search- 
ing, nor on my hair, nor holding tight with its delicate 
fingers on the nap of a coat, nor sticking upon the oppo- 
site wall to confront our eyes on first opening them in the 
morning ; in each and all of which places I have found 
or seen the lizards, yet, knowing that they and we had 
one grand common antipathy, I made the best of their 
undesired femiliarity. It may be, also, that in selecting 
a residence the lizard takes care to avoid such as are 
frequented by scorpions ; at all events during five years a 
solitary specimen that we killed upcHi our sofa was the 
only scorpion that we ever saw. 

But if even a bronze lizard could look uncanny when 
it came upon me unexpectedly, what can be said of its 
cousin the "Mountain Devil," whose name science has 
by no means softened, as ugly creatures have a right to 
expect, but has actually gone out of her way to make 
worse, changing its common appellation to " Moloch 
horridus ! " This ill-used creature possesses, both in the 
position of the thumbs on its fore paws and also in chang- 
ing its colours when out of health, somewhat of the 
character of a true cameleon ; and now that I speak of 
character it is right to add that, excepting in its appear- 
ance, the bad name it has received is whoUy undeserved, 
for it is a meek inofiensive little lizard ; and has the one 
gmce of the toad, a pair of pretty eyes, with a farther 
resemblance to that last-named reptile in the wide shape 
of its stomach. 



Digitized 



by Google 



A LIZABD WITH A SAD NAME. 183 

The ** Mountain Devil " is about five or six inches long, 
often not quite so much, and its head, back, legs, and tail, 
in feet the whole of its body, are covered with prickly 
spine« like the thorns of a rose bush. It looks very much 
as if it had two heads, or rather perhaps like a lady with 
a large chignon ; and to make this resemblance the more 
perfect the false head, which is placed behind the real 
one, is much the biggest of the two; seeming (so my 
husband thought) to have been intended as a defence to 
the head proper : since he found that when the creature 
was alarmed by bringing a stick or a rod close to its eyes 
it instinctively placed its real head between its fore legs, 
and brought the false one down to the former position of 
the real one; thus retroverting the formidable spines 
with which both are armed, and presenting an object 
which its great enemy the snake could scarcely attempt 
to swallow. 

The colour of the creature is a rich yellow varied with 
spots of deep vandyke-brown ; these are large upon the 
head and body, and diminish gradually as they approach 
the tail until they become no larger than pepper corns. 
The spots seem intended to imitate the lichens upon the 
red granite rocks amongst which the lizard lives and 
seeks its prey, chiefly ants and flies ; and the resemblance 
is much increased by the fact that at different seasons of 
the year the brown patches change into green and reddish 
hues, in accordance with the varying age and appearance 
of the lichens, so that the insects upon which the lizard 
feeds are completely deceived, and lulled into a false secu- 
rity which proves fatal to them. 

I forget how we became possessed of it, but at all events 



Digitized 



by Google 



184 8KETCHE8 IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

a '^ Mountain Deyil" heads the list of all onr Australian 
pets. His tail (for a domestic animal acquires a person- 
ality that rises above the neuter gender) being so rough 
with thorns afforded a capital holding- place for the string 
by which we tethered him in the garden, choosing a sandy 
spot where he could find plenty of ants for food ; but we 
soon found that we must protect him by a wire dish- 
cover, as the cat was remarkably fond of sitting near him ' 
and examining him, and we thought that her curiosity 
was not altogether of a disinterested sort. I confess that 
I always avoided any care of him that involved personal 
contact, though so well convinced of his harmlessness, 
and when evening came and our pet had to be untethered 
and put to sleep in a basket lined with wool, like a child 
in its cot, it was my husband and not myself who 
carried him to his bed. 

It did not seem right to have a pet without a name, or, 
what was as bad, with a name unfit for daily use owing to 
its diabolical character; so my husband pitched upon 
" Timothy " as an improvement ; not that we ever expected 
him to come at call, but to satisfy our feeling of what was 
due to a creature now established as one of the family 
circle. I must own that the undemonstrative tone of 
Timothy's disposition was a hindrance to intimacy on my 
part, especially as I did not share in my husband's desire 
to learn as much as possible about the animal's habits. 
He would lie placidly on the palm of a familiar hand, 
showing no wish to get away ; he would stand upon the 
table most obligingly whilst coloured sketches were taken 
of him ; but nothing ever seemed to make him especially 
glad or soxry, and we could not determine whether his 



Digitized 



by Google 



TEE SMILING BOY. 185 

tranquillity resulted from contentment with his circum- 
stances or resignation to fate. 

My husband, however, acquired a strange regard for his 
pet, and one afternoon as I was returning from a walk he 
met me with a face so melancholy that I saw immediately 
that something had gone wrong. " Timothy is lost," he 
said. It appeared that he had fallen asleep on the sofa 
with Timothy lying beside him in his open basket, and 
when he woke up the cradle was %mpty. We felt sure 
that the cat knew all about it, but that did not make the 
matter any better, and, after hunting for him all over the 
garden with no success, we gave Timothy up as lost for 
ever.' But the next evening a smiling boy walked up to 
our front door with the question, "Had we lost our 
Mountain Devil?" and behold, Timothy lay in his 
hand. 

The boy had found him creeping through a fence, 
taking a direct course for Mount Douraking and his 
native granite ; and as, when recaptured, he was blind of 
one eye, we felt more than ever confirmed in our suspi- 
cions that the cat was responsible for his abduction from 
his basket, and that she had dropped him on finding that 
his thorns made him an awkward mouthfoL 

We again gave him his bed of wool, and tethered him 
once more to feed on the ants in the garden, and I cannot 
say that the loss of his eye seemed to weigh much on his 
spirits as he had never appeared to have any ; but in a day 
or two afterwards we noticed that his colours appeared 
unnatural in hue, and on examining him closely, we found 
that our poor Timothy was dead. A plain grave in the 
garden was, we thought, below the merits of one who 



Digitized 



by Google 



186 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AU^BALIA. 

might haye claimed a niche in a chamber of scientific 
horrors, and we should at leaat have liked to have given 
him the honours of a glass case ; but we could not do so 
for want of arsenical soap to preserve his skin, and we 
therefore buried Timothy just as he was. 

In our next pet we advanced a few steps in the order of 
creation, for we tried to tame a Noombaiy or "banded 
Myrmicobius," wliich a native had brought us as a present; 
it was a little quadrtiped of the ant-eater species, about 
the size of a small cat, the fur marked in rings round the 
body in colours of brown and buif. But being unfortu- 
nately full grown he did not care, as a younger Noombai 
might have done, for making fresh acquaintances,' was 
suspicious of bread and milk — in fact would eat nothing 
that we offered him, and every now and then made a 
noise which, without exaggeration, was very like the 
roaring of a bull. Altogether he was a disappointment, 
and when he died, after a few days spent in the attempt 
to tame him, we were only saved from feelings of remorse 
by the recollection that we had never asked the native to 
bring him. 

But this is a digression for which I must . ask pardon as 
there yet remains another saurian to be mentioned. 
Between forty and fifty miles in a south-easterly direction 
from our residence some young ladies of our acquaintance 
saw one morning what they imagined to be a pig amongst 
the cabbages in their father's garden. The dogs were 
immediately called to drive out the intruder, which, 
instead of taking to its heels as was expected, faced round 
ferociously, and disclosed in so doing the limbs and linea- 
ments of no pig but of an enormous lizard-shaped creature 



Digitized 



by Google 



KILLING A MONSTER. 187 

abore fiye feet long, and apparently much disposed to 
resent all interference. 

The screams of the frightened ladies brought out a 
brother armed with his gun, who immediately shot the 
lizard, and, with exultation more natural than scientific, 
chopped off its head and laid the carcass across the 
threshold of the house to astonish those whom the dinner- 
hour should bring in from the field. On hearing this 
story from one of the actors in it, a few years after the 
occurrence, the point on which we felt most curiosity was 
to discover whether the head of the reptile had terminated 
in a sharp snout like the crocodile, or in a blunt rounded 
form like the iguana : but the head having been unfor- 
tunately thrown away at the time of the decapitation, and 
an attempt to preserve the skin having proved ineffectual 
for want of proper means and appliances, we lost all oppor- 
tunity of deciding upon the animal's true character. 

That it lived '* to the eastward," that the natives called 
it by the name of Bunny-a/r* and said that it was '* sulky 
fellow " and that they would climb trees to avoid it, were 
the only distinct answers that we ever obtained to our 
inquiries amongst them upon the subject. Khourabene 
seemed to retain a clear recollection of having, when 
quite a child, seen his father engaged in fighting with 
such a creature : but his notions as to the exact shape and 
appearance were too misty to be depended upon, and 
though he drew a rough outline of it upon the ground at 

* Perhaps the name of Bunny-ar would afford some due to the imture of 
the mysteriouB creature called Bunny-ip by the natives of New South 
Wales, the existence of which is supposed by many persons to be merely 
chimerical. 



Digitized 



by Google 



188 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

my husband's request, which had the sharp crocodile head, 
we did not consider ourselves justified in coming to any 
definite opinion upon the question from such yague remi- 
niscences. That it exists at the present day in the wild 
country to the eastward seems to be certain, as traces 
which proved its presence were seen by one of the latest 
exploring parties; but that it was very rarely to be met 
with we were convinced by the fact of our never procuring 
a specimen, though my husband offered a reward of fiive 
pounds to any person who would bring him an unmuti- 
lated skin and head. The existence, however, of so large 
a lizard in the district sufficiently accounted to us for the 
prevalence of a tradition, to which we otherwise attached 
no importance, of *'an alligator" having once been seen 
in the dry sandy bed of the river at Barladong. 

The reptile most dreaded where we lived was the black 
snake, which attains at its full growth a length of rather 
more than five feet, and whose bite is certain death within 
a few hours, if the wounded part cannot be immediately cut 
out. As this creature mostly haunted swampy places it 
was wise to be cautious in approaching any well at dusk, 
lest a snake should already be there, like an evil genius, 
to dispute possession of the water. 

We learned from the sad experience of one of our neigh- 
bours to be doubly careful when approaching any water in 
close proximity to^vines or fig-trees when the fruit was 
ripe. The landlord of the inn whose dogs gave me such a 
noisy reception on my journey to Barladong, had a spring 
of this secluded kind in his garden ; and here, as he stood 
unsuspiciously one evening speculating upon his crop of 
grapes, two white fangs were darted at his thumb. In 



Digitized 



by Google 



BLACK SNAKE IN FIChTREE. 189 

the dim L'ght he mistook them for the horns of a grass- 
hopper, but the thrill of pain which instantly afterwards 
ran through his whole body dispelled the momentary 
Ulusion. There was no time for trifling, so, having first 
tied a piece of string tightly above the bite, he manfully 
cut away the flesh around with his razor, and then rode 
abne twenty miles to seek the aid of the nearest surgeon, 
no doubt thus saving his life by his own courage and 
presence of mind. 

A spot which a snake has once frequented may always 
be expected to be visited by others of the fraternity ; and 
Ae only live black snake which I ever saw was also at 
this same inn where the landlord had been bitten. We 
had gone there for two days' change of air and for the 
pleasure of wandering in the bush, and had taken Binnahan 
with us, who was of course in the highest spirits — play- 
ing with the many cats of the establishment — making 
believe to help our landlady in washing tumblers and tea- 
cups — ^and, every quarter of an hour at least, breaking off 
from all pretence of work in order to bring us offerings of 
ripe figs from a tree in the vineyard and to take toll of 
the finiit for herself. Suddenly she came flying into our 
Utile parlour, with her eyes half a size larger than usual, 
and panted out the words, " Master I black snake in fig- 
tree I " We speedily repaired to the yard and found a 
little knot of people eagerly gazing at a respectful dis- 
tance into the said tree, upon a branch of which lay 
stretched the object of general attention, flattening its 
body to secure a good hold, and eating the fruit that 
grew on the ferthermost twig with a composure that 
offered a strong contrast to our excitement. 



Digitized 



by Google 



190 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTBALIA. 

As we stood looking at the dangerous creature oar 
chief feeling was that of wonder that Binnahan had not 
been bitten, for she had been a dozen times in and out of 
the tree that morning. A large pile of firewood, how^ 
ever, was stacked near the fig-tree, and the supposition 
that the snake had but lately glided out of it to look for 
its breakfast appeared the most probable solution of the 
poor child's merciful escape. I did not exactly see how 
the enemy was to be persuaded to "come and be killed" 
without endangering the bystanders, but the ostler soon 
settled that point by a blow from a long pole, knocking 
from the tree both branch and snake together ; and the mis- 
tress of the house, remembering her brother's narrow 
escape, would depute to none the office of executioner, but 
revenged all family injuries past and present by herself 
beheading the outlaw as soon as it reached the ground. 

A htdr-breadth escape was related to me by a poor 
neighbour who, in putting her hand to the bottom of a 
basket in the dark, touched " something that felt like a 
bunch of black-puddings," which proved to be a sleeping 
snake. On another occasion the same woman observed 
the head of a black snake wriggling its way into her 
wooden hut through a knot hole in one of the boards. 
She rushed out and killed it at once, thus saving her 
baby, whose cradle was dose to the aperture, so that the 
snake would most probably have curled itself up by the 
sleeping infant, for the sake of the warmth, had not the 
mother providentially noticed its attempted entrance. 

I used sometimes to fancy that I had found the track 
of a snake upon the sandy path that led to our house, but 
my thinking so only proved my ignorance of the impres- 



Digitized 



by Google 



TRAP'BOOR SPIDERS. 191 

sion which a snake's movements would leave behind him, 
for what I had noticed were in reality the traces of a 
march of Palmer-worms, of which we now and then saw a 
prodigions number. 

On one especial occasion we descried laid across the 
road at a little distance, what we supposed to be a string 
of twisted opossum fur, such as is made by the natives ; 
but on nearer approach we found it to be a party of these 
same Palmers on a pilgrimage, the head of one touch- 
ing the tail of another, and all of them dressed as for 
penance in the hair-cloth which has been given them by 
nature. 

In a clayey bank in our field ai good many of the curious 
teip-door spiders had taken up their abode, The,se sin- 
gular insects form a circular tube in the ground, which is 
lined with smooth hangings of silk, and closed at the top 
by a tightly-fitting door, furnished with a spring hinge 
which is also lined on the inside with silk. The upper 
surface of this trap-door is made of pellets of earth so 
fashioned and arranged as exactly to match the surface of 
the ground into which the shaft is sunk, even to the 
extent of being covered with shreds of moss should the 
bank be a mossy one. 

One scarcely knows which to admire most, the skilful 
rounding of the shaft, the perfectly adjusted hinge to the 
door, or the talent for concealment which renders this 
spider's dwelling so difficult to discover. Although con- 
structed on the surface of the bare ground the trap-dcor 
is so well masked that, if Binnahan had not shown us the 
exact spot where it might be found, we should probably 
have never been aware that we had these interesting 



Digitized 



by Google 



192 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA, 

insects for our neighbours. To elude her quick senses, 
howeyer, or indeed those of any natiye, a coat of darknees 
alone could have sufficed, and not eyen that unless its 
wearer left no impression of his footsteps. 

The manner in which Nature teaches all her creatures 
to provide for their own concealment and safety, is a most 
interesting study to any observant person ; while in some 
cases she herself has rendered such instincts unnecessary 
by so framing the outside appearance of her proiigh as 
to be of itself an all-sufficient disguise, as in the rose- 
caterpillar in England which the most quick-sighted 
observer can scarcely distinguish from the short stumps of 
the bush on which it feeds. But in some foreign coun- 
tries, Australia amongst others, Nature seems fairly to 
frolic and revel in imitation, and to keep as loose a rein 
upon her fancy as the writer of a fairy tale. Thus to meet 
with a dead leaf quietly walking across a footpath, or a 
piece of dead stick sauntering along on its own account, 
reminds one of the travelling pin and needle whom the 
cock and hen overtook upon their journey as related by 
Grimm. 

I never, to my knowledge, saw more than one " walking- 
stick insect," but the race was not uncommon around 
Barladong, and the creature's resemblance to a twig is 
so exact that one might easily pass it unnoticed, even if 
beneath one's very eyes. A friend brought me a speci- 
men to look at, and set it down in our verandah, where its 
movements, corresponding with its appearance, were those 
of a little broken branch gently fluttered over the ground 
by the wind. 

Walking-stick insects {Bacteria trophinus) are not ex- 



Digitized 



by Google 



KEEPING WATCH ON A SERPENT. 193 

clusively confined to Australia, but if Mr. Woods* is 
correct in saying that they are only found in the hottest 
parts of the earth, his assertion confirms our experience 
of the extreme heat of a Western Australian summer in 
latitude 32^ soutL 

I cannot dismiss this subject without relating an anec- 
dote not quite irrelevant to the familiar name of these 
animated twigs. We had been sitting one evening at 
twiUght in the verandah of a lady whose caution with 
regard to reptiles verged somewhat on excess. We had 
wished her good night and returned towards our own home 
wheu, shortly after our departure, she became aware that 
a snake was hanging by its under jaw upon the outer ledge 
of her casement, and curiously peering through the win- 
dow into the room where she sat With a steady voice, 
and her eyes fixed upon the foe, she called her maid and 
bade her run to the nearest cottage to request the first 
man that could be found to lose no time in coming to kill 
the snake, over which she herself would undertake to keep 
watch. 

The maid, well pleased to get out of harm's way, flew 
off on her errand, leaving her mistress to mesmerize the 
serpent by the fixity of her gaze ; which she did with such 
effect that, beyond a slight pendulous movement, it never 
so much as winked or stirred during her solitary vigil. At 
length the girl returned, accompanied by our own day- 
labourer, and a consultation as to the best method of 
destroying the venomous beast was held. As it was 
evident that the snake could not be done to death in the 

• *niustrated Natural History,' vol. iii., p. 485. Bev. J. G. Woods. 
Boutledge, &c. 



Digitized 



by Google 



194 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

dark a kitchen candle was quickly brought upon the scene 
of action, when, as if by the stroke of enchantment, the 
reptile vanished, or rather was changed into a walking- 
stick carved to imitate a dog's head, with two white beads 
for eyes, which the intended dragon-slayer instantly 
recognized as the property of his master. 

The demise of the Noombat had left a vacancy in our 
menofferie which, thanks to the unsolicited interposition of 
our neighbours, was of no long duration. Possibly we had 
gained the reputation of people to whom no sort of pets 
could come amiss. 

We had heard the name of Lennard in the colony, but 
had never seen its owner ; nevertheless one morning a boy 
appeared at our door, hugging in his arms a bag very full 
of something, and with the words, ** Mi'. Lennard's compli- 
ments, and he has sent you a kangaroo," the boy put his 
bag on the ground and let out its contents. 

" Jacky," as we named the gift of our unknown benefac- 
tor, must have been at that time from four to five months 
old, and was as tame as are all marsupial animals that 
have been caught and petted when quite young. If, for 
instance, anyone walking through the bush happens to 
pick up a young kangaroo rat, and carries it in his pocket 
for an hour or two, the rat, when set down upon the ground 
gain, will come hopping aft^r the man, or rather perhaps 
alter the coat-pocket which has no doubt brought back to 
the little creature's mind its reminiscences of the maternal 
pouch. 

Jacky's fore paws were extremely small, even fragile- 
looking, and when he boxed our cat's ears, as he soon 
learned to do for any fancied aflfront, I did not think that 



Digitized 



by Google 



KANGAROaS MODE OF SELF-DEFENCE. 195 

the blow seemed to hurt her. Bnt there is a vast differ- 
ence between the fore leg of a kangaroo full grown and 
that of a stripling like Jacky, who could only command a 
comfortable view of our dinner-table by raising himself on 
his hind legs and tail. At full growth the fore paws of a 
kangaroo are quite as large as those of a mastiff, though of 
another shape, and a tall old Booma, as the natives call the 
male kangaroo, can bring his head on a level with the face 
of a man on horseback, so as to use his " hands " with effect. 

Jacky 's hind feet were much like those of a deer, only 
that the hoof was far more pointed, and young as he 
was, one could imt^ine that they had the power to inflict 
terrible blows. A kangaroo's feet are, in fact, his weapons 
of defence with which, when he is brought to bay, he tears 
his antagonists the dogs most dreadfully, and instances 
are not wanting of even men having been killed by a large 
old male. No doubt this peculiar method of disposing of 
his enemies has earned for him the name of Bootna, which 
in the native language signifies to strike. 

Jacky was of a very sociable turn, and fond of following 
ns from room to room, in doing which his hind feet sounded 
on the boarded floors as if somebody in thick boots was 
hopping about on one leg. In the garden he would lie 
well stretched out, looking the oddest compound of a long- 
legged bird joined on to something that was neither sheep 
nor deer and yet resembled both ; if he sat up and looked 
about him his attitude was suggestive of a tripod, for in 
taking a range of the horizon he rested upon his tail as on 
a third leg. At meal-times he was a particularly danger- 
ous guest, as he had a way of laying his nose upon the 
edge of the table and then turning his head from side to 



Digitized 



by Google 



196 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

side in an inquiring fashion, as if anxious to make his 
choice amongst the dishes. Consequently when I after- 
wards heard of his having ** broken all the cups and 
saucers" at his last place, I thought that the statement 
bore probability on the face of it, and that the fact of his 
haying done so might have suggested to his former owner 
the idea that a change of masters would be gratifying to 
all parties. 

New society sometimes develops new faculties, and 
Jacky now showed a strong propensity to experiments 
upon the properties of sugar-beer. We had a cask with a 
leaky tap standing in one of the verandahs, beneath which 
a saucer was always placed to catch the overflow ; Jacky 
one day thought fit to taste its contents, and found them 
so much to his mind that he quickly repeated his visit 
By degrees he acquired sufficient boldness to empty the 
saucer at one bout, after which, with a nice calculation not 
to have been expected from his sheep-like cranium, he 
would lie down to sleep away the time that must elapse 
before it could again be filled by the leakage, at which 
period he would wake up and return to the barrel for another 
draught, always choosing some shady spot in the vineyard 
in which to sleep off the efiects of the potations. I cannot 
say that I saw any particular harm iii all this, but my 
husband often remonstrated with me on keeping a tipsy 
kangaroo. 

We had taken care on Jacky's account to warn tiie 
natives against bringing their dogs with them when visit- 
ing the parsonage, but one day we saw a large kangaroo 
dog coming towards the house with a queer little dd 
native who, from having lost his heels in a fire, and being 



Digitized 



by Google 



A CEACE, 197 

in consequence obliged to walk on tiptoes, was commonly 
called Jingy — I suppose because the tracks that he left 
were like nothing human, just as the prints of bullocks 
and of men wearing boots were pronounced by the natives, 
when seen for the first time, to be " Jingy," e. e. " devil," 
tracks. No sooner did the dog perceive Jacky than the 
chace began, and the noise which was made by the 
lookers-on, in trying to call back the dog, brought us into 
the garden imagining that nothing less could cause such 
shouting than the house having taken fire. 

Pursued by the dog, Jacky went flying like the wind 
three times round the outside fence, then made a diversion 
and took his course up a rising ground ; but sugar-beer 
being bad for training, and Jacky therefore out of con- 
dition, the dog gained so much on him here that we held 
our breath, expecting that a few moments more would end 
his days miserably. At that instant a girl appeared, who 
was on her way to fetch water, and carrying two empty 
buckets on a hoop. She stopped as if in astonishment, 
waiting for the hunt to come up to her: the kangaroo 
passed her, the dog only a yard or two behind, when the 
girl met him, and flinging up her hoop under his jaw, 
gave poor Jacky time to turn through a little gate and 
find security in a garden. There he lay crouching until 
our man, who had done his best to follow in the race, 
lifted him up in his arms and carried him back in a very 
winded plight, perfectly knocked up, but able to lap a 
little beer when he was set down in the kitchen. The 
poor old native dared not show his face for many a long 
day after. 

But as the winter advanced and the green crops came 



Digitized 



by Google 



198 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTBALIA. 

on Jacky began to show another inclination which he bad 
not before manifested, one less foreign to his nature it 
is trae than the beer, but even more injurious to his 
reputation as a harmless domestic kangaroo, one in feet 
fatal both to our peace and to his own. We were now 
continually disgraced by the accounts which were brought 
us of his having spent whole nights in grazing in our 
neighbours' gardens and cornfields, reports which were 
sadly strengthened by his often appearing at breakfast 
with no appetite whatever, and with his coat whitened 
over with hoar frost ; and yet we could not bear to follow 
the suggestion which was freely offered to us that it 
would be the best plan to keep him imprisoned in a httle 
yard, with a chain round his waist like a monkey, until 
the harvest was ripened and got in. We determined 
instead to send him to some people living in the bush who 
had no crops to be injured, and who promised that he 
should be well looked after until he could return to U8 
and the stubble-fields. Poor Jacky never lived to see 
either again; he pined away when parted from his old 
friends, and I am afraid that his end was hastened by 
being deprived of beer, and that he sank a victim to an 
artificial want. 

Eating the neighbours' com, however, is not the only 
cause that I have known alleged for dismissing a kan- 
garoo. In a settler's family at the distance of a few miles 
from Barladong a strange freak was played by a petted 
kangaroo, as if in emulation of that traditional monkey 
which, according to one version, carried off Oliver Cromwell 
from his nurse, and by another account of the legend is 
stated to have stolen a young Fitzgerald. 



Digitized 



by Google 



DISMISSING A NURSEMAID. 199 

The house stood on an eminence above the river, and 
one day the kangaroo picked up the baby out of its cradle, 
and, with the child in his arms, went hopping down the 
bank. His intentions were good, no doubt, for he per- 
mitted himself to be overtaken and deprived of his charge, 
but the poor mother had in the meanwhile received such 
a fright that the would-be nursemaid was " given warning " 
on the spot. 

At the time of the first settling of the colony English- 
bred greyhounds were used for hunting the kangaroo and 
emu, and I have been told that in those days the value 
of a really good brace of dogs* was fifty pounds. Since 
then cross-breeds between mastiff and greyhound, or 
better still between fox-hound and Scottish deer-hound, 
have been introduced, and are known under the name 
of kangaroo dogs. It was long before sheep were suffi- 
ciently plentiful to admit of being freely eaten, and those 
persons who were so fortunate as to possess good dogs 
lived as much as possible on kangaroo venison, which still 
retains an honoured place at all tables even though the 
sauce of necessity is wanting. 

The usual price of the meat whilst in season is twopence- 
halfpenny the pound, and the hind quarters and tail alone 
are cooked, the other parts of the animal falling to the 
share of the dogs. Being very dry meat it requires as 
much basting as a hare, and is generally eaten with the 
accompaniment of fat pork. A larded loin of kangaroo 
is a real dainty, but the larding was our own idea, and 
I fancied that our larding-needle was unique in the 
colony. The tail makes a splendid soup which is very 
nutritious, and also capital stews and pasties ; in fact it 



Digitized 



by Google 



200 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

is far superior to ox-tail for all culinary purposes. To 
see two people skinning a kangaroo's tail is like watching 
the game that children call " French and English " ; one 
cannot help wondering which of the pair will first tumble 
backwards, so great is the strength with which the skin 
adheres to the sinews, which are, owing to their toughness, 
used by the natives in place of thread in the seams of 
their fur mantles. If kangaroo is dressed like jugged hare 
the deception is complete, and the plan also answers well 
of salting a piece of the loin and then hanging it up the 
chimney to dry in the smoke until it becomes hard enougfi 
to be grated like Hamburg beef. 

There is a much smaller kind of animal called the rock 
kangaroo, of which I employed Khourabene to bring me 
skins enough to make a large hearth-rug. The for is 
softer and longer than that of the large kangaroo, and 
prettier also, but far inferior in durability. Bosa rather 
deplored my fancy for the Australian furs, since she had 
seen them so constantly used as coverings for the beds in 
the poorer sort of colonial houses, that she could not 
reconcile herself to my adoption of the same custom in our 
own. She failed, however, to talk me out of my predilec- 
tions, for the nights were cold in winter, and foot-mats of 
kangaroo skins, or counterpanes of opossum fur rendered 
us less sensible of the fact that our house was by no means 
impervious to wind and weather. A very moderate degree 
of cold, too, seemed to us severe indeed after the intense 
heats of summer, and when the rain has been accompanied 
by cold wind we have found ourselves chilly indoors, even 
though the thermometer in the verandah might be stand- 
ing above 60°. 



Digitized 



byGoogk 



BATS AND BOOBIES. 201 

Another animal with which the bush swarms is the 
kangaroo rat, or, I should perhaps rather say the " boody," 
though there is but a very slight difference between the 
two creatures, except that the ** boody " is a burrower and 
makes its habitation underground, while the kangaroo rat 
usually forms its nest in an old hollow tree. There is also 
a distinction between them in the colour of the tail. 

These rats or ** hoodies " are of much the same size as 
their English cousins, and resemble them in the shape of 
the head and ears, though the body is rather larger than 
that of the old black rat, being fully as big as that of a 
well grown Hanoverian. The long hind legs, however, 
which are quite of the kangaroo type, diminish this re- 
semblance to the rat which is given by the shape of the 
head and ears, so that I have often thought that "Aus- 
tndian Jerboa " would be the more fitting name for the 
animal ; but the likeness between it and the English rat 
was strong enough to mislead Binnahan, who, on find- 
ing a picture in ^ Punch' of rats dressed in coats and 
trousers, exclaimed, " Look at the boodies, missis ! they 
have all got on comfortable clothes." 

Should a number of these creatures be established in 
the vicinity nothing is safe, — flour, sugar, pork, candles, 
and soap, all seem to suit their tastes, and they burrow 
with as much ease and rapidity as the rats with which we 
are familiar at home. A servant once employed by us, 
who had been a bush sawyer for some years, used to com- 
plain bitterly of the trouble that a colony of boodies had 
caused him before he could succeed in frightening them 
away irom his hut Bishop Salvado also, in his account 
of the Benedictine settlement at New Norcia, mentions 



Digitized 



by Google 



202 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA, 

the very great annoyance caused by these animals in the 
earlier days of the Mission, and speaks with gratitude of a 
poor Irish servant who endeavoured to lessen the nuisance 
by making him a present of a cat. 

A pair of kangaroo rats were brought to me late one 
evening as a gift, and though I saw my dog looking at 
them sideways in a manner which was inhospitable to say 
the least of it, yet, as she had alway^ bestowed similar 
glances on all the other pets that we haA ever possessed, 
I forgot what her sense of duty in this particular case 
might be, and carelessly left the rats that night in the 
kitchen. As might have been expected both were found 
next morning very neatly shaken to death, the terrier's 
ideas of strict justice being quite above making scientific 
distinctions between rats with pouches and rats without. 
The next rat that was given to me I introduced to the dog 
with a solemn injunction that the new-comer should be 
allowed an unmolested existence. But the rat repaid the 
dog's sufferance by giving himself great airs, behaving as 
though he was master of the house, and resenting with 
tmculent kicks from his long hind legs the slightest 
difference of opinion between himself and any one of us. 
He was fond of hiding himself in the beds and there 
sleeping through the day, waking up at night exceedingly 
fresh and lively, and ready to follow us about the garden 
in a series of hops that resembled the bounding of an 
india-rubber ball. We ventured out with him one night 
beyond our fence, he hopping after us, and on returning to 
the house we found that our tyrant had given us the slip ; 
at all events, we never saw him again. The announce- 
ment that he was nowhere visible on the premises seemed 



Digitized 



by Google 



A MISCELLANEOUS DIET. 203 

fo lift a load off the mind of the dog, who had been living 
for some time in a state of pretematui-al self-restraint, and 
even the whole hoasehold owned to a feeling of relief. 

The kangaroo is one of the supporters of the arms of 
Australia, his fellow-helper on the opposite side of the 
shield being an emu, light-heeled creatures both of them, 
to which the motto " Advance Australia " seems thoroughly 
suitable. 

The emu is a bird very easily tamed, but we would not 
enrol one of the race amongst our favourites, on account of 
the rooted idea prevalent amongst these birds that every- 
thing which they can see about a house is an article of 
provender. Back-combs, tobacco-pipes, two-inch nails, 
screws, and screw-drivers are swallowed by him between 
his regular meals as light restoratives, which sort of fillip 
his constitution appears to require so often that he is soon 
held responsible for all disappearances whatsoever upon 
the premises, and thus becomes a far worse domestic 
scourge than any landlady's cat that ever was fabled. 
Nevertheless he fattens on the diet, and emu grease is 
held in great esteem by both colonists and natives as a 
cure for bruises and rheumatism. The flesh seems to be 
generally considered a sort of cross between bird and beast, 
as I have heard it compared to beef, pork, and goose. 

The emu's eggs and feathers bear no resemblance to 
those of the ostrich, the eggs being coloured of a deep 
green with a beautiful roughened surface, and the feathers 
(of which a singular peculiarity is that two plumes spring 
from each quill) are crisp and curly, so that when they are 
worn upon the head as an ornament by the natives, and 
mingle with the natural hair, the effect is perplexing at 



Digitized 



by Google 



204 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

first sight to a stranger. A very handsome " apron" for 
a fire-place in summer is made by hanging the skin of a 
large emu at the back of the open heartL 

In a wild state neither emus nor kangaroos will approach 
witliin five or six miles of the colonial towns, excepting 
under great pressure of thirst ; but the opossum, who is 
assisted by his small person no less than his nocturnal 
habits in escaping obserration, frequents eyery place where 
there are tall trees to climb, or fruit-gardens to be robbed. 

The Australian opossum, or koomaly as the natives call 
it, differs in many respects from that of other coimtries. 
A description of it under the name of Vulpine Phalangist 
occurs in Mr. Woods' * Illustrated Natural BUstory,' * but 
his information that it is a "slow animal" can have been 
furnished him only by those persons who never saw an 
Australian opossum in its wild state. Dash, dart, spring, 
and scamper are the words which properly characterise its 
movements, and the nearest approach that it ever makes 
to a walk is a measured trot with a strange kind of swag, 
owing to its shoulders being so much lower than the hind 
quarters. When full grown an opossum is of the size and 
weight of a wild rabbit, the fur exquisitely soft and thick, 
mostly of a grey colour, but frequently dark brown tinged 
with yellow. We only once saw an opossum that was snow- 
white, and the kind was so uncommon that the old lady 
who brought it to our door for sale, asked us no more than 
we considered to be about twice its worth, in proposing 
that we should " give her a pound for it." 

It is very common to see children with a young opossum 
for a plaything, but less so to find parents who will long 

• See vol. i., pp. 466, 467. 



Digitized 



by Google 



NOCTURNAL LIVELINESS OF OPOSSUMS. 205 

permit the toy to be retained. Its excessive liveliness at 
night destroys not only the sleep of the household, but also 
all its crockery, for the creature plays such antics when it is 
shut up within four walls, that nothing of a brittle nature 
is safe which can be thrown down, or broken by articles 
upset upon it from above; in fact, I am disposed to think 
that a bull would prove himself but mild and inoffensive 
in a china shop, compared with what could be effected by 
two good active opossums. AJso when Bishop Salvado 
says, in his description of Australian animals, that he has 
had many tame opossums at the Mission-house, and that 
they play without doing any harm — " senza ledere " — the 
unavoidable inference of readers who know the sports 
most in favour with domesticated opossums is that the 
Benedictines either had no plates at all, or were re- 
stricted by their rule to the use of wooden trenchers 
only. 

The first opossums that I ever saw were two young 
ones which had just been given to some children, who had 
placed them in an advantageous position in a little tree at 
the back door of their father's house, and then stood 
snrveying their new property with great pride. The 
opossums, meanwhile, dazzled by the broad daylight, were 
looking as sleepy as owls, and as incapable of voluntary 
movement as clothes hung upon a bush to dry. A few 
days afterwards I met the father setting out on a long 
walk, with a basket on his arm containing the identical 
opossums, which he was intending to let loose at the 
ferthest point of his destination. Had he taken the 
apparently obvious course of turning them out of doors 
near his home, the cat-like attachment of the opossum to 



Digitized 



by Google 



206 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA, 

famiUar walls would have ensured the return of his 
tormentors the same night. 

However, in spite of our neighbour's experience, I was 
not unwilling to accept as a present an opossum which 
was brought to me by a poor fellow who had captured it 
whilst he was at work in the bush. It is a pity that in 
giving the opossum its name, zoologists should have chosen 
one so ill according with the English language as to render 
certain its wrong pronunciation by all but well-educated 
persons ; nevertheless as pet names, whether of children 
or domestic animals, are always allowed to undergo 
unphilosophical changes, we hoped that in styling our 
opossum "Possie," we might be pardoned for dropping 
the awkward first syllable. A Spaniard who was steward 
of the ship in which we returned to England, and who 
was bringing home an opossimi, not only modified its 
name to suit his own tongue, but went a step farther, and, 
with the courtliness of his nation, added to it a title, 
dubbing the creature El Senor Posimc, 

I have compared the kangaroo to a booted man hopping 
about the house on one leg, but the movements of tlie 
opossum suggest, on the contrary, those of a person who 
has taken his boots off for the purpose of making as little 
disturbance as possible. This impression is strengthened 
by the manner in which the fur on the legs terminates in 
a sort of frill just above the little bare white paws, giving 
them the look of tiny feet with socks on, or of hands 
covered with soft gloves. 

The long sweeping tail, rich in fur on the upper side, is 
seamed underneath with a narrow strip of skin immensely 
strong and thick, which gives it purchase when hanging 



Digitized 



by Google 



POSSIE PLAYS ''HIDE AND SEEK:* 207 

on the boughs, and causes, to those who handle it for the 
tirst time, a sensation as of something odd and unexpected. 
The fore paws of the opossum are slight and fragile, some- 
what like those of the kangaroo, as might be expected to 
be the case since both animals use them as hands, and 
conyey their food to the mouth with them, but between 
the hind feet of the two animals there is no similarity. 
An opossum's hind foot reminds one in a certain degree of 
the foot of a cockatoo, both creatures being climbers, and 
their feet framed in such a manner as shall secure a firm 
hold upon the boughs of the trees in which they live. A 
curious supernumerary little claw upon the opossum's 
hind foot serves him as a pocket-comb, but neither the 
daw nor the use that he makes of it is mentioned in 
any account that I have read of him, nor have I seen it 
recorded that, like hares and cats, he follows the praise- 
worthy custom of frequently washing his face. 

At the time of our becoming possessed of Possie she 
was 80 young as to be incapable of doing much mischief, 
and for the first fortnight she fixed upon no settled place 
of abode, but was always causing excitement by turning 
up in out-of-the-way unexpected places, where she lay fast 
asleep, and was only discovered when search for other 
missing articles was made, thus fulfilling what seems an 
universal law of nature, that if people look for one thing, 
they generally find another. 

We at first thought that her choice of dormitories was 
indiscrinunate, but she proved to be simply experimenting 
on their difierent merits until she should have found a 
hiding-place completely suited to all her requirements. 
This standard being eventually reached by her discovery 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 

J 



208 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA 

of the bottom of an old carpet-bag, we resigned all prior 
right to it in her favour, and hung up the bag on a nail in 
a little empty chamber which we gave up to her as 
" Possie's room " thenceforward, thinking that if we could 
not tone down her bump of destructiveness our next best 
course was to take from her all chance of employing it 

I lifted her out of the bag every morning and gave her 
a breakfast of milk, which she would drink most eagerly, 
diving her head deep into the jug, but as she grew older 
she weaned herself, and chose tea in preference. In 
course of time she would either jump upon my shoulder 
at breakfast and curl her tail round my throat, or would 
sit beside me on the table holding bread in her fore paws 
like a squirrel ; showing no signs of native wildness unl^s 
we gave her something that she thought especially nice, 
such as cake or apricots, when, seeming to fear that the 
possession of such dainties might be disputed, she would 
instantly scamper across the floor with the prize in her 
mouth, and dashing up a flight of shelves would sit on 
the topmost one to enjoy her feast in leisurely security. 

The time at which she slept most heavily appeared to 
be about four o'clock in the afternoon, but in the earlier 
part of the day she was easily awakened ; and if I held a 
bunch of flowers at the mouth of the carpet-bag they 
would be gently drawn inwards, and sometimes a little 
pink nose would rise above the opening, but this was only 
when the flowers were of a sort that Possie best liked, as 
roses or raspberry-jam blossoms. Sugar and preserves 
she also ate very greedily, and seemed in all respects so 
delicate a feeder that for a long while I doubted whether 
people spoke tndy in telling me that opossums were in 



Digitized 



by Google 



OPOSSUMS BIRD DEVOUBEBS. 209 

the habit of eating small birds. Possie, however, shook 
my scepticism by one day getting hold of a plume of 
feathers and tearing them to pieces with her fore paws, as 
vicionsly as a cat might have done ; and, on our voyage 
home, the titled opossum belonging to the Spaniard dis- 
persed all my doubts on the subject by devouring a Java 
sparrow before my eyes, though happily for the sparrow 
it had died prior to being eaten. 

This love of devouring birds has helped, I suppose, to 
earn for poor Possie's race the name of " vulpine," though 
I do not see the reason of bestowing it especially on the 
Australian opossum. It does not rob poultry-yards like 
the opossum of Virginia, nor is its personal resemblance 
to a fox particularly striking, though no doubt its large 
eyes, broad forehead, and keen-looking nose are, to a cer- 
tain extent, vulpine characteristics. Neither had Possie 
any gifts of dissimulation, whereas in Virginia "'pos- 
suming" means much the same as "foxing" in England. 

She did not always choose to return to the carpet-bag 
after breakfast, but would sometimes hide under our 
eider-down quilt, and there sleep the whole day through, 
waking up, if I caressed her, to lick my hand with the 
affection of a dog. At sundown in summer-time we used 
to take her into the garden, and whilst twilight lasted she 
would follow us about quietly ; but as soon as night closed 
ia she would come to a halt, and with back erect, head 
raised, and ears stretched forward, assume a listening 
attitude ; then of a sudden, as if she had distinguished a 
femiliat voice calling to her from a distance, she would 
spring away and disappear in the darkness. The first 
time that she acted thus we imagined that she was irre- 

p 



Digitized 



by Google 



210 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

trievably lost, and returned ont of spirits to the house; 
about two in the morning, however, a gentle spring 
against the door of our bed-room aroused us from cor 
sleep, and I went to open it, letting in as I did so a flood 
of moonlight as well as the truant, who entered boldly, 
like one permitted to return late from the play or from 
some other kind of evening entertainment, and evidently 
very anxious for supper. 

There seemed to be for Possie a magical attraction in 
any dark hole, and not long after this ramble she di9- 
covered an opening in the calico ceiling of our room, by 
which she could run to a comer amongst the rafters, a 
sleeping-place apparently far more to her mind than 
either the carpet-bag or the eider-down quilt. Her rea- 
sons for preferring the roof were precisely those that 
made us object to it. We had wished to try the possi- 
bility of inducing her to be less nocturnal in her habits, 
but from this new abode there were no means of enticing 
her before her own time for waking, which was generally 
after dark ; when, if we were not on the watch, she would 
creep down and escape to spend the night in the open air, 
returning, it is true, with such regularity to knock at the 
door that, if I knew she was gone out, I always, as a last act 
on retiring to rest, set out her supper, to which she betook 
herself in a most orderly and methodical manner imme- 
diately on admission. 

If the doors stood open on account of the heat she 
would awaken me with springing on the bed to let me 
know that she was come in, and once I was startled out 
of my sleep with the noise that she made in trying to lift 
off the lid of the sugar basin, with which she was weU 



Digitized 



by Google 



AN IRRESISTIBLE TEMPTATION. 211 

acquainted, by sticking her sharp-pointed nose through 
the handle. In winter-time when the doors were not 
open at all hours of the twenty-four, she did not so easily 
get out without leave ; and it was by no means unusual, if 
1 went from one room to another in the dark, to find her 
drop upon me suddenly from the roof, alighting on my 
shoulder or my head, like a soft heavy bundle, and steady- 
ing herself by wrapping her tail round my fewje or my 
throat. 

Through close observation of her habits fi« were 
enabled, to a great extent, to falsify our neighbours* pre- 
dictions that we should rue the day that ever we petted 
an opossum. To do the good folks justice they had not 
been sparing of their prophecies, and, with a solemn look 
at our chimney ornaments, had foretold the breaking of 
" every mortal one of them." But we found that Possie's 
spirits rapidly increased with the later hours of night, 
and that for a little while after dark she was not one 
whit more dangerous amongst nick-nacks than a lively 
kitten. In playing about a room, at this early stage of 
the night, she gave offence to no one but our little dog, 
who persisted in regarding her as an interloper, and often 
looked appealingly at me when molested or disturbed, as 
if asking that the affront, which she herself was not per- 
mitted to notice, might be resented by her mistress. 

There was one temptation, however, wliich Possie could 
never resist, — if a nosegay was within reach she would 
always try to get at it, and I sometimes found her sitting 
holt upright before one that had been arranged with care 
and trouble, snatching out flower after flower, and eagerly 
transferring them to her mouth, her large round eyes full 



Digitized 



by Google 



212 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

of wilfiilness, and her figure reminding me of the " Bear 
and Eagged StaflF/' as she sat erect holding a flowe^ 
stalk in her fore paws. This delinquency proved, no 
doubt, a solace to the dog, since the rival had then come 
to the end of her tether, and was banished forthwith to 
her own quarters for the remainder of the night. 

We always did our best to keep her at home on moon- 
light nights, opossum hunting being then a favourite 
amusement of men and boys accompanied by dogs. These 
latter, when once trained to the sport, frequently follow it 
alone and on their own account, and will often molest the 
whole neighbourhood for hours together, by pertinaciously 
barking beneath a tree where some unlucky fugitive has 
taken refuge. 

When our fruit was ripe we had yet other reasons for 
wishing Possie to content herself with her own spare room 
and carpet-bag. Opossums are said to scent apricots from 
a long distance, and their way of eating them is to taste 
a piece out of each apricot on a tree, but to finish none ; 
and as they pursue the same method with all kinds of fruit, 
they quickly ruin the entire produce of a garden. 

Possie had been our playfellow for about two years 
when we began to notice that her pouch contained a 
tenant. This was especially perceptible whenever she 
ran up and down a long bamboo rod that served as a 
staircase to her favourite hole in the roof; and the matter 
was placed beyond doubt, one day, by the appearance of a 
little hind leg, which she put back again in a great hurry. 
Some time afterwards, in the month of August, in rainy, 
gloomy weather, I found her very comfortably established 
behind a curtain with her young one sitting in front of 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



BIRTn OF A YOUNG OPOSSUM, 218 

her ; and whereas the little leg that I had seen at first 
was as bare of covering as is a new-bom rat or rabbit, its 
whole little person was now dressed in a beautiful for coat 
I put mother and child into the carpet-bag, and for nearly 
two days Possie never left it, seeming meanwhile scarcely 
to care for eating or drinking, and giving a little low hiss 
if I touched her. 

After a time she came out to be fed as usual, but 
returned quickly to the bag without loitering over her 
meals, showing no desire to leave the little one, for whose 
sake she even abandoned her nightly ** constitutional." 
When we had at length succeeded in decoying both of 
them out of the carpet-bag, Possie judged it expedient to 
change the scene by a removal to the hole in the roof; 
performing the journey thither as usual by means of the 
bamboo, up which she made a dash with an air of vast 
importance, the young one being seated on her back, and 
its tail lashed tight round her body. It was very pretty 
to see the two at feeding-time, sitting side by side, and 
eating like squirrels, the young one snatching the mother's 
portion from her paws, and the theft amiably submitted 
to. People came to look at the pair as at a most unusual 
sight, and old colonists told me that they had never 
before heard of an opossum breeding in captivity ; but it 
would have been nearer to the truth to compare Possie*s 
position rather to that of a highly-favoured prisoner on 
parole. 

By the time that her fur had grown quite shabby with 
the effects of the long-continued game of pickaback up 
and down the bamboo, she appeared to think it fitting to 
introduce her daughter into society ; accordingly the two 



Digitized 



by Google 



214 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

left home together one night in order to see the world. 
The chaperon knocked at our door on her return very 
late and alone, leading us to suppose that she had lost 
her young charge ; we were therefore somewhat surprised 
next morning to find near the house, in the branches of a 
peach-tree, the poor debutarUey looking very miserable, 
drenched with dew and half-blinded with the rising sun. 
I handed back to Possie her progeny, which she seamed 
not a little pleased to dry and comfort; but the next 
time that she took it out she lost it altogether. 

She had now acquired such a taste for dissipation that 
she could not be content unless spending every evening 
abroad, and our endeavours to keep her within doors on 
moonlight nights were frustrated by her biting a hole in 
the thatch of her own apartment. This act was soon 
supplemented by her choosing for herself a more distant 
sleeping-place, which we could never discover, and for 
about a year she paid us visits nearly every night, knock- 
ing as usual at oiu* door to be let in to supper, but main- 
taining a strict reserve as to where she lodged, a fatal 
secrecy that eventually caused us to lose her. 

Whilst she had occupied the little room and the carpet- 
bag we had always been able, on leaving home for a few 
days, to commit the charge of her to Rosa; not that the 
arrangement pleased either party, for Eosa revenged on 
all opossums a bite through her thumb-nail which she 
had once received from a wild one, and Possie, having wit 
enough to feel herself disliked, lost no chance of retaliating, 
and would even run at Bosa like a cross dog. But when 
Possie insisted on a separate establishment, it was difficult 
to have her cared for in our accidental absence, and so at 



Digitized 



by Google 



TENDER RETB08PECTI0NS. 215 

last, on returning home from a fortnight's visit in another 
district, there was no Possie to welcome us, nor did she 
ever reappear. Probably she had knocked many times 
at our door during the fortnight, and being as often dis- 
appointed, had finally joined her own people. Our friend- 
ship had been not only very close for above three years, 
but uninterrupted by a single disagreement, and in the 
recollections that rise up, as our thoughts look back to 
Western Australia, little Possie and her pretty ways have 
a very prominent place. 



Digitized 



by Google 



216 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 



CHAPTEB X. 

WHEEEIN NATUBAL HI8T0BY MEBGEB INTO AN A<XX)I7NT OF 
8GABCITY OF WATEB. 

Panoqnets — Twenty-eights — Boaella parroqnets in pomegTanate-tree — 
Native brings Bosella nestling — Lore of pancakes — Wild Boeellu 
decoy away my tame one — Supposed single specimen of pairot — 
Crows — Silver Tongue — Wagtails and swallows — B^l-bird — 
Cockatoos — Swans — Cockatoo broth — Startled in the dark — A 
thankless offer — Kylies used in killing birds — Painting a kylie— 
Bronze-winged pigeons — Ngowa — Method in which Ngowa prepares 
nest — Rare birds driven into inhabited districts by want of water — 
We lose turkey — Painted snipe — Cat's tribute to fidelity of artist 

— Ciunamon-coloured heron — Moths and other marauders — Fish 
called Coblers — Snappers and mullet — Crawfish — Fresh-water 
turtles — Frying turtle-eggs proves a bad experiment — Affectionate 
disposition of aborigines — Wild ducks — Khourabene's complacency 
at a well-filled bag — Game laws — ^ Father and mother, I must 
hook it away I ** — Strong feeling of ownership with respect to land 
on part of natives — Metempsychosis — Forest laws less severe 
amongst Australians than amongst ancient Normans — AocumulatioD 
of water in consequence of felling timber — Amends made by white 
man — Corobberies — Mortality and early deaths amongst natives — 
Bishop Salvado's way of dispersing combatants — His remonstrances 
produce no effect with native husbands — Drought — Want of tanks 

— Floods — Swollen river renders farm-yard impassable — Washing 
on river bank — Inconvenience of distant wells — Temptations to 
gossip at wells — Anecdote of encamping at night without water — 
Enthusiastic welcome of boy and pony — Custom capable of sweet- 
ening brackish water. 

The birds most common in onr vicinity were yarious kinds 
of parroquets. One variety was coloured green and blue 
faced with yellow, reminding one of a footman's livery ; 
these would skim across a cornfield in little flocks like a 
flash of green light, but met with no greater consideration 



Digitized 



by Google 



REARING A NESTLING. 217 

than other robbers of grain whose feathers are more 
homely. The name by which these parroquets are usually 
known is TwentyeiffJU, on account of their cry resembling 
a repetition of those two numerals. As cage birds they 
are much valued, are soon tamed, and easily taught to 
whistle; I have heard a Twenty-eight that could even 
manage a few bars of the ** Prairie flower." 

Bright as the Twenty-eiffhis are their plumage is but 
plain compared with that of another parroquet called the 
lioseUa, which, like the former, is barely so large as an 
English blackbird, excepting for the greater length of 
taiL Of these last parroquets, the breast and throat axe 
of a deep brilliant red, the cheeks yellow, and the back 
and wings of green mingled with dark blue. A pome- 
granate-tree with half-a-dozen Eosellas perched amongst 
its shining leaves, and ripening fruit, looks like an illu- 
minated initial vignette in an old missal. I had often 
seen these gay little creatures in our garden ; nay, I am 
sorry to say that they had formed a part of the many 
natural curiosities brought in by our cat, for whom very 
highly-coloured prey seemed to have an especial attrac- 
tion ; but my first intimate acquaintance with the Eosellas 
commenced with one that a native brought me, freshly 
taken from the nest I had never before had the care of 
a half-fledged orphan bird, and for the sake of keeping it 
warm I often carried it in my gown-pocket, and allowed 
it to sleep in the same receptacle when the dress was hung 
up at night Thus I saved my bird's life, and lengthened 
my own by the habits of early rising which the chirps of 
my nestling forced upon me, making sleep impossible after 
the sun was risen. 



Digitized 



by Google 



218 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA, 

In a very short time the Eosella was suflBciently ad- 
vanced to be put in possession of a cage, which he did 
not take to very kindly ; when I let him loose in the 
morning he would show his pleasure by dancing up and 
down upon my hand, twittering his little K)ng close to 
my face, and fluttering his wings with the most evident 
delight. 

On account of his fondness for society, and his love of 
seeing all that went on, his cage was usually hung in the 
most frequented of our verandahs, where no sooner did he 
see Eosa passing backwards and forwards with prepara- 
tions for laying the cloth for dinner, than he would begin 
jumping on and off his perch to attest his approval of her 
punctuality, knowing that when the first course was dis- 
posed of, it would be her duty to bring him in upon a 
tray, together with the dishes of the second. He then 
hopped upon the table with a bold expectation of welcome, 
which, together with his bright red breast, often recalled 
to us an English robin ; and, if the bill of fare cx)mprised a 
dish of pancakes, he would pounce upon them with more 
eagerness than on any other dainty, picking at the crisp 
edges, and now and then giving little rapid chirps, as if 
to notify that he approved of the cookery but could not 
afford time to say much. However pancakes are one 
thing and freedom is another, and all my bird's affection 
for his favourite food could not enable him to resist the 
blandishments of his wild neighbours, when he once ob- 
tained the chance of getting away. His wing had at first 
been kept clipped, but I fancied that the sight of the 
scissors, when the feathers were to be cut, made the little 
creature frightened and unhappy, so that I had lately 



Digitized 



by Google 



VABIO US BIRDS. 219 

trusted to his great tameness alone to retain him about 
the honse. " Dicky/' as we called him, did not suflBciently 
appreciate this sacrifice to friendship, and after having 
Uved ¥rith us long enough to have become, in his way, 
quite a little celebrity, he watched his opportunity and 
flew ofif irrecoverably. 

It might have been supposed that a land so abundant 
in parroquets would have also been prolific in parrots, 
but a delicate little race of grass-green birds not larger 
than a hen linnet, represented, I believe, the only kind 
of true parrot in Western Australia. In a cage these 
diminutive parrots, (for which the native name is Kower^ 
are very difScult to rear, but, as they seem to be of the 
love-bird species, it is possible that the unsuccessful 
attempt which we made to bring up a single specimen 
might have had a different result had we experimented 
on a pair. There were not wanting birds of a soberer hue 
that reminded us of feathered friends at home. Plenty 
of sooty-backed crows contrasted with the gay colours 
of the parroquets,- and the pretty little Silver Tonffue, 
wliich made havoc with our ripe pomegranates and pecked 
out the seeds with its long slender bill, was not unlike 
a small thrush. 

But the two kinds of birds about whose identity there 
could be no dispute were the wagtails and swallows ; the 
former bird being known by his provincial English name 
of " dish-washer," as if he had been a poor relation of the 
genteel wagtails at home. This bird's short song, con- 
sisting of the words, " Pretty creature, pretty creature," 
pronounced with the greatest distinctness, was repeated 
by him all day long from the first peep of dawn, as if 



Digitized 



by Google 



220 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

he were absorbed in perpetual admiration of his little 
mate. 

The nests which the swallows built under our eaves 
were made with an entrance shaped something like the 
neck of a bottle, and this peculiarity of architecture, to- 
gether with the shortness of the bird's tail, were the only 
distinctions that we ever observed between the swallows 
of England and those of the southern hemisphere. 

I have already mentioned the perplexity into which we 
were thrown by the ventriloquism of the frog, and the 
Bell-bird also seemed possessed with the same wish to 
conceal its individuality. The note of this bird was so 
exactly like the sound of the click of the capstan pawl in 
drawing up the anchor of a little yacht, that it not only 
made one long to set sail, but brought the sea-shore 
tantalizingly before the mind's eye, in the midst of the 
dry hot forest. 

Often a loud screaming in the air would announce a 
flock of cockatoos, either white or black, flying overhead, 
and flights of wild fowl also would sometimes pass over 
the house, but amongst these last we could not enumerate 
the well-known black swan more than once or twice. 
The sable plumage of the Australian swan does not 
extend to the breast, which is covered with soft white 
down ; but tliis is not a handsome contrast of colours, and 
gives the bird rather a magpie look, very different from 
the brilliant appearance afiForded by the scarlet tail 
feathers of the black cockatoo when set off by the jetty 
hues of the body and breast. The white cockatoo lives 
chiefly upon roots, which Nature has enabled the bird 
to dig for in the driest weather, by furnishing him with 



Digitized 



by Google 



EEO UBABENE " KILLS HIS FIFE.'' 221 

a large bill shaped exactly like a pick-axe. A flock of 
these busy delvere bard at work turning up the ground 
in search of grain just sown, their eyes surrounded by the 
cnrious broad blue rim peculiar to white cockatoos making 
them look like a gang of nayyies in spectacles, is an object 
of such especial disgust to the fcu*mer, that it is no wonder 
that he tries every plan to keep his cook in a good supply 
of them, more particularly as they make capital broth. 

I was sitting alone one winter's night, with no light but 
that of the fire, when I was startled by the apparition 
of Khourabene, or rather by the sudden gleam of the 
whites of his eyes and the white wings of a cockatoo 
dangling from his hand — ^these being the first objects 
that I could distinguish in the darkened room, which he 
had entered without any previous knocking at the door. 
The purpose of his visit was explained by his offering me 
the cockatoo as an equivalent for ** baccy," which I could 
not give him, as there happened to be no tobacco in the 
house. I told him, therefore, that he should have some tea 
instead, but the offer of tea to a tobaccoless man, and one 
moreover who, by his own account, had been wandering 
in the bush for two days without smoking, feU as flat 
as did the district visitor's present of flannel to those chil- 
dren in Thomas Hood's tale who were crying for a Christ- 
mas pudding. Grievously disappointed at the failure he 
snatched his useless pipe from his arm-band, saying very 
sulkily, " I kill my pipe," and deliberately broke it in 
two. 

The flat curved wooden weapon, called a Jcylie, which the 
natives have invented for the purpose of kilUng several 
birds out of a flock at one throw, looks not unlike a bird 



Digitized 



by Google 



222 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

itself as it whizzes (or walks as natives say) thi'ongh the 
air in its circular and ascending flight ; and in a crowded 
fight it is a very formidable missile, owing to the difficulty 
of avoiding its apparently ubiquitous and hap-hazaid 
course. "Too much kylie walk" was the description 
given us of a native fight by one who had been prevented 
from joining the afiray by an atttick of illness, which he 
defined as "too much cough." 

The natives take great pains in the manufacture and 
finish of their Tcylies^ and I found Binnahan and a black 
unde one day very busy adomiug his stock of them id a 
fanciful pattern of emerald green and vermilion, from the 
contents of a shilling colour box which we had given her. 
These weapons cu*e by no means to be despised as a means 
of supplying the table with game when in the hands of a 
clever native, and when the birds at which they are thrown 
are of a gregarious nature, (as cockatoos or wild fowl,) 
though of course the hylie is no match for the gun as far 
as filling the larder is concerned. 

But the use of a fowling-piece seems to come as natu- 
rally to the natives as that of their ruder arms, and it is 
a frequent practice with the colonists to employ one of 
them as a sort of hunter, or game procurer, especially 
when the bronze-winged pigeon is in season. These lovely 
birds have often been described, but no words ciui picture 
the beauty of the quickly changing hues of the neck and 
breast, upon which the b'ght glances and flashes as it do^ 
on the plumage of the humming birds. The pigeon when 
in fiill feather requires to be aimed at either on the wing, 
or from behind if taken sitting, as otherwise the thick 
plumage of the breeist prevents the shot from penetratiiig. 



Digitized 



by Google 



DESCRIPTION OF NGOWA, 223 

When cooked these birds are a very dainty dish, but their 
predilection for the "berry poison** renders great care 
necessary in preparing them for the table, and also in 
preventing dogs and cats from eating the entrails. 

There is, however, amongst edible birds none that can 
at all compare with the one known to natives as the 
Ng&wcty and to naturalists as the Leipoa, which is one 
species of those birds that have gained a front rank 
amongst feathered celebrities, by practising a system of 
artificial incubation. It lays its eggs in a mound of grass 
and leaves, which it heaps together to the size of twenty 
or thirty feet in circumference, and two or three in height, 
and then keeps watch in a thicket nigh at hand for the 
moment when the chicks are ready to leave the shell. 

The Nffotva is larger than a pheasant, which in taste it 
exactly resembles, but it has not the pheasant's tail, and 
its shape is rather that of the blackcock; the feathers are 
beautifully dappled white and brown, the latter inclining 
to red. A person once told us that he had heard of 
Nffowa^B eggs being hatched by a barn-door fowl, and that 
a cross-breed had been obtained between these tame 
Ngowca and common poultry; but, though we saw no 
reason to think the story improbable, it was one that we 
were never able positively to substantiate. 

Many birds existed in the colony which were so rarely 
seen near the settled districts that, in spite of Khoura- 
bene*s sportsmanship, we should never have become ac- 
quainted with them had not one winter been so unusually 
dry as to compel them to venture from the wild eastward 
sand plains to our district in search of water. That the 
Ngowa was one of these we had a proof in the curiosity 



Digitized 



by Google 



224 SKET0HE8 IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

and wonder expressed at sight of it by a settler of many 
years' residence in the colony, who happened to be calling 
at our house when Khourabene returned after a successful 
day's shooting, and laid four at my feet. 

We lost the only wild turkey that we ever saw through 
the excessive flurry of delight into which Khourabene was 
thrown by catching sight of it passing over our house to- 
wards the river ; his hands shook so much in his haste to 
load the gUB that he could not put in a proper chai^,an(i 
our expected feast flew away from a flash in the pan 
scarcely so loud as the laughter of us the bystanders, 
leaving Khourabene's feelings in a very damaged state, 
but itself quite uninjured. 

This same winter a wisp of seven of the painted or 
pictured snipe, a bird never before seen in Western 
Australia, paid a visit to Barladong. They were all either 
shot or snared, and the remembrance of them is associated 
in our minds with an unlucky and provoking accident 
The young colonist who first discovered them had brought 
one to my husband, who was very anxious to preserve it, 
and had taken the greatest pains to prevent the long bill 
from being injured while skinning the neck and body, 
which was rather a diflBcult task. He had succeeded quite 
to his own satisfaction, and had also stufied the bird pre- 
paratory to mounting it properly. The cat> however, 
thought it looked so lifelike that she pounced upon it, and 
tore it to pieces ruthlessly, doubtless a great compliment 
to the artist, but one with which he could willingly have 
dispensed. 

Amongst all rarities, however, we saw none that 
delighted us more than a beautiful cinnamon-coloured 



Digitized 



by Google 



MOTHS AND SKIN BEETLES 225 

heron, with its lohg white crest no thicker than a wheat 
straw. A skin of this bird was brought to me, by the 
same Incky young sportsman who had given us the snipe, 
which I added to the collection of curiosities that I was 
making in the hope of gratifying my friends on my return 
home with many a scarce and graceful gift But in so 
warm a climate the frequent airing and turning over of 
either curiosities or clothes is very burdensome, and if this 
is neglected the pitiless moths not only have it all their 
own way, but much of what they leave untouched is 
riddled by an insect called the silver fish. 

Nor does even this last devourer close the list of the 
marauders upon our goods and chattels. We had a great 
many plants of the minor bamboo in our garden, which 
reaches the height of sixteen feet or so, and is much in 
request with children who want a fishing-rod. There were 
some little fellows who often came to beg bamboos, and the 
request being one day accompanied by another for some 
fish-hooks, my husband, in searching for them, chanced 
to open the book which had contained his rather expensive 
collection of trout and salmon flies ; but it seemed that 
they had been as attractive to the skin beetles as he had 
once hoped that they would prpve to the fish, and each 
parchment-leaf contained a naked book and nothing more. 

The fish called cchlers, which the boys hoped to catch, 
resembled eels somewhat, and were not ill tasted, but were 
more remarkable for the severely poisonous nature of their 
sharp-pointed back and side fins than for any merit that 
they possessed as food. These disadvantages considered, 
we should have wondered at the pains which were taken 
by many persons to catch cdblers, had they not been, 

Q 



Digitized 



by Google 



226 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA, 

crawfish excepted, almost the only kind of river fish that 
was procurable at Barladong. 

At Fremantle fishermen were rewarded by finding good 
snapper and mullet, which were excellent when dried 
and salted, and seldom made their appearance in our 
town in any other condition, being hawked for sale by a 
lively youth, who never failed to recommend his ware by 
biting pieces off the specimen fish which he carried in his 
hand as a sample. 

Besides crawfish and cdblers, our river boasted of fresh- 
water turtles, which looked so hideous, with their snake* 
like necks longer than their shell-clad bodies, that I was 
content to take on trust all that had been told me of the 
goodness of turtle broth, without wishing to test its merits 
personally. 

The eggs which this creature lays are white, and very 
long in proportion to their breadth. Binnahan once 
brought in an apronful of turtles' eggs that she had found 
beside the river, but instead of sucking them raw, as I 
had expected her to do, she begged that she might be 
allowed to fry them, being apparently under the impres- 
sion that one sort of egg was as fit to cook as another. 
The frying-pan was accordingly placed at her disposal, 
but I did not inspect the cookery, and I noticed that she 
never repeated the experiment. 

We soon found that a native, if treated with kindness 
and consideration, would become much attached to his 
employers and give proof of a most affectionate dispod- 
tion, an experience confirmed by others who had spent 
their whole lives in the colony. Khourabene had become 
fond of my husband very soon after his first acquaintance 



Digitized 



by Google 



GAME LAWS AMONGST SAVAGES. 227 

with us, and when on one occasion he found that his 
master during a period of illness could fancy no food so 
much as wild ducks, he would scour the bush far and 
wide in order to procure them for him. If our good 
savage had heard of ducks being seen on a pool within a 
few miles of our house, he would make his appearance in 
a breathless state of excitement, begging us to give him 
the gun, with which he would hurry away to secure the 
prize. His complacency at success found vent in little 
patronizing observations addressed to the birds them- 
selves, whilst he sat on his own especial log of wood by 
the fire-side, and picked his share of their bones in the 
kitchen. 

These happy days were brought to an end by our 
making the unlooked-for discovery that savages," equally 
with civilized people, have their game laws, and that by 
these Klourabene was prohibited from shooting for us 
any longer. He surprised us one evening by entering the 
room with tears streaming down his face, and repeatedly 
sobbing out^ the words, " Father and mother, I must hook 
it away!" he explained, in his strange mixture of 
Australian and cockney dialects, that the other natives 
had had an indignation-meeting to discuss his audacity in 
daring to bring us game off their land (Khourabene's 
" settlement " in the parochial phraseology of home being 
in another district), and that they had threatened to spear 
him if he continued to do so. We tried to comfort him, 
and in our ignorance of native customs treated the matter 
lightly, but he continued to cry bitterly, and bidding us 
good-bye he disappeared. 

At first we were disposed to fancy that he had been a 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



228 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

little drunk, but, on making inquiries of those persons who 
best knew the natives, we learned that any native who, 
witliout permission, kills wild animals upon land belong- 
ing to a tribe of which he is not a member, incurs the 
penalty of death. The feelings of the natives are very 
strong with respect to ownership in the soil, and some of 
them will still pofnt to certain spots as theirs which have 
long been cleared and occupied by Englishmen. 

The first colonists who took possession of the country 
were supposed by the poor savages to be tiie souls of their 
dead compatriots, who had returned with white faces. In 
some of the new-comers such strong personal resemblance 
to deceased native individuals was thought to be detected, 
that the surviving relations gave the strangers the names 
of the departed, and would even assert that upon their 
bodies would still be found the mark of the spear wounds 
which had caused the deaths of their prototypes. As 
these ideas still prevailed to a certain extent, my husband 
came in for his share of metempsychosis, and was known 
amongst the older natives by the name of an aboriginal 
gentleman who had been speared in the back at some 
bygone battle. 

But to return to the early days of the colony : when the 
supposed ghosts began to make a fresh distribution of the 
land, regardless of the real owners' lien upon it, and to 
infringe their game laws, the original proprietors became 
" very troublesome," as the phrase goes for native beha- 
viour under such circumstances. They continued to oppose 
the appropriation of the land until cowed into submission, 
and seemed disposed to treat the invaders with as h'ttle 
hospitality as our own ancestors showed towards Juh'ns 



Digitized 



by Google 



SCARCITY OF WATER, 229 

Capsar, for whose ill reception by their forefathers modern 
Britons are not in the habit of expressing much remorse. 

The sort of punishment which, even 1200 years after 
the Boman invasion, would have been legally inflicted 
upon anyone who had dared to drive ofif or kill the deer 
and fill the royal or baronial chases with sheep and horses, 
or to plough up large portions of the land, may be inferred 
from the spirit of our ancient forest statutes; and the 
revenge taken by the natives of Australia upon those who 
seemed to them to be guilty of similar infractions of the 
laws and customs of their country, has certainly been far 
less severe than was the judicial severity of our Norman 
and Saxon ancestors. 

In the case, too, of the poor Australian, it was not only 
his land and the wild animals upon it of which he feared 
to be deprived by the entrance of the white man: the 
symbol of submission, that was offered in old times by a 
weak nation to its stronger neighbour, included water as 
well as earth, and there can be no doubt that the jealous 
feeling of proprietorship with which each different tribe 
guarded its scanty supplies of water helped much to 
strengthen the opposition towards the interlopers. 

In respect to water, however, even the natives them- 
selves are ready to acknowledge that some amends has 
been made by their conquerors, since the cutting down of 
the trees, which had for ages absorbed the moisture in 
the soil, causes the water, which is not now required for 
the nourishment of those great masses of vegetation, first 
to accumulate in the earth, and then to break forth as a 
spring. The same deficiency of rain that, in the dry win- 
ter of which I have been speaking, brought us rare birds 



Digitized 



by Google 



230 SKETCHES IN WESTEBN AUSTRALIA. 

from such great distances, also caused our neighbourhood 
to be filled with an unusual number of natives, who con- 
stantly made the nights noisy with their merriment 

Two " corobberies," as the native dances are called, I 
especially recollect, when a most disturbing and oft-recur- 
ring hubbub was kept up all night by the whole company, 
who beat and stamped upon the ground in unison, pro- 
ducing an amount of noise that was perfectly astounding, 
their bare feet and the hardness of the soil being taken 
into consideration. The piece, which would probably 
otherwise have had an indefinite run, was in its third 
rehearsal, when the police interrupted the performance in 
mercy to the white people, who had been unable to sleep 
during the two previous nights. We never again saw so 
many natives collected together at any one time, nor was 
it merely that they dispersed on the ceasing of the drought 
which had caused them to congregate around us. 

During the five years which we spent in the colony, we 
remarked a sensible diminution by death of those natives 
who had been our friends, and we noticed that the fatal 
cases occurred amongst the young and middle-aged rather 
than the old. More than twenty years before, when 
Bishop Salvado (from whose work I have already quoted) 
had parted a little mob of fighting viragoes by laying his 
cane soundly on the shoulders of the strongest, the men, 
whom he reproached for standing by whilst their women 
were killing each other, excused themselves by saying 
** that there were plenty more " ; other reasons would have 
been required for the men's neutrality at the time of our 
landing in Western Australia, and still more so when we 
left it. 



Digitized 



by Google 



EFFECTS OF FLOOD, 231 

Slight as was the drought of 1865 in that country com- 
pared with what was suffered in South Australia from the 
same c^use, yet it was felt severely. Horses perished in 
the bush, and ewes were too much weakened by insufficient 
food to survive the lambing season ; whilst on mtmy a poor 
man's field, that had been sown to feed a family of children, 
pigs were the only reapers of the stunted stalks which, 
fix)m want of rain, had never ripened into ears of corn. 

I always felt it a matter for surprise that, with so many 
prisoners who needed employment, the Government had 
not set the example of making large tanks for husbanding 
the rain-water, of which, in an ordinary winter, there is a 
greater fall during the rainy season than occurs in England 
throughout the year. 

Floods are almost as characteristic of Australia as 
droughts, and two years before we went there rain fell to 
an excess which will be matter of tradition at Barladong 
so long, at least, as anyone remains to remember going to 
school in a boat instead of by the footpath in that wet 
winter. I heard an anecdote of that sloppy period from a 
family with whom we became intimate, who told me that 
their farm-yard was divided by a narrow river pool, on 
one side of which stood the house, and on the other the 
stables, with a little wooden foot-bridge between. In the 
course of one day the water increased so much in height 
and strength, that the sons who had been since the morn- 
ing on that side of the stream which was nearest to the 
stables were unable to cross it at eventide, although 
within speaking distance of their family, and near enough 
for their sisters to throw them over provisions. After 
waiting two days or so, the waters showing no diminution, 



Digitized 



by Google 



232 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

the flood-bound party made the best of their way on horse- 
back to a bridge, and reached home by a circuit of some 
thirty miles. 

Incidents of this kind were a strange contrast to those of 
1865, when we knew of people being obliged to send eight 
miles for water every washing day. When a river pool is 
within reasonable distance it is customary, in ordinary 
seasons, to convey the clothes to the water rather than the 
water to the clothes. A fire is then lighted on the water's 
edge, and a booth of green boughs erected for the washer- 
woman, beneath which she stands at her tubs, securely 
screened from the sun. 

The inconvenience of occupying a residence where there 
was not only no water on the premises, but where the 
nearest well was quite two hundred yards distant, appeared 
overwhelming to us when we first took up our abode at 
Barladong. When I learned, however, that many of our 
poorer neighbours lived at a much greater distance thctn 
ourselves from a weU, I found that the comfort of onr 
position exceeded theirs in as great a degree as the con- 
veniences of our own house were surpassed by those of an 
English one, where water is " laid-on " upon every floor. 

The labour and loss of time in fetching and carrying 
water are not the only evils involved in distant wells. The 
much-frequented spring is, as Goethe well knew, the foun- 
tain-head of half the gossip in the neighbourhood, and the 
fact of the poet having been able (in his * Faust ') to trans- 
mute the chatter of village maidens into an immortal scene, 
gives no consolation to an unfortunate housewife distracted 
with waiting for her servant, who has been sent for a bucket 
of water and remains at the well talking idly with thd — 






Digitized 



by Google 



UNEXPECTED WATER-CARRIERS. 233 

girls whom she finds congregated there. There is no 
doubt, also, that the games of marbles, with which the 
small fry of male water-carriers occupy themselves till the 
claims of first-comers to the well have been satisfied, are 
protracted to a much greater length than any outsiders 
would consider necessary. 

A curious anecdote, that illustrated both the scarcity of 
water and the distance that people sometimes walk to 
fetch it, was told me by a friend. In making a long 
journey, to a remote part oi the colony, night had over- 
taken her party before reaching any watering-place that 
was known to them, and, with the prospect of many hours 
of thirst, more wearisome to bear because shared with her 
by her child, she was sitting sadly in her tent door when 
there suddenly emerged from the trees a woman and girl 
carrying each a bucket. My friend had come so far with- 
out meeting a living soul that this unexpected apparition, 
in the dim light, of two persons going about their ordinary 
business made her scream with surprise, and perhaps she 
mentally compared the incident to that of an angel's visit 
when the strangers showed her a spring at no great 
distance, whither they were on their way to fetch water, 
having already walked two miles from their own home. 

It is not always the absolute non-existence of water near 
a person's own dwelling that necessitates so much labour, 
since often, in digging a well for the supply of the house, 
only salt springs are found at first, and in this case drink- 
ing water, at all events, has to be procured from elsewhere, 
either in perpetuity or until better luck attends the well- 
sinker. 

One of my friends told me that for some time she and 



Digitized 



by Google 



234 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTBALIA. 

the rest of her family had no water to drink but snch as 
was daily brought in a keg by a boy, who fetched it from 
three miles distance on a pony, pony and boy being met 
on their return by every child, dog, and fowl belonging to 
the homestead, all racing out to obtain a taste of the 
contents of the keg. Nevertheless custom, which can 
reconcile us to so many things, causes even a moderate 
quantity of salt to be forgotten, and a colonist, who once 
paid us a visit, accounted for his horse appearing but little 
to relish the water of our pool by the fact of the animal 
having been so long used to a brackish well in his own 
field as to prefer it to water which was quite fresh. 



Digitized 



by Google 



DRYING UP OF GRASS. 235 



CHAPTER XL 

Winter a fevomable time for exploring parties — Explorers turn back for 
want of water — Second expedition — Excitement at setting out — 
School copies — Second disappointment — Wild puppies give great 
umbrage — Bushrangers — Impassable bush serves as prison wall — 
Fire-fiunns indispensable to bushrangers — Fatal occurrences — Native 
trackers — Chain-gang — Conditional pardons — Fact of having been 
in Western Australia suppressed by immigrants in Adelaide — Tale of 
escape — Discontent of ticket-of-leave men on cessation of conditional 
pardons — An oppressive state of law — Truck system — Anecdote 
of shoemaker — Benevolent master — Tendency of truck system to 
destroy gratitude — Archdeacon Paley's opinion of paying ready 
money — Girl thinks it high time bucket should be worn out — Reck- 
less expenditure of wages — Savings* bank discouraged, and why — 
French convict saves money — Barter — Paying one's creditor with 
eggs — Dressmaker paid with melons and almonds — Hospital ad- 
mission — Nursing the sick — Presents to patients forbidden — Hos- 
pital orderlies — Dentists — French Colonel — Ophthalmia — "Bunged" 
eyes — Squints — Measles and hooping-cough — Mortality from 
measles amongst natives — A "corporal act of mercy" — Native 
hops and tea — HoUoway's pills — Woman severely burnt — Broken 
leg — Dislocated hip — Answer to coo-ee — Finding of human bones 

— Lost cliild — Discovery of relics — Reasons for easily losing one's 
way in bush — Anecdotes of Irish neighbour and the poor maid-servant 

— We spend a night out of doors — Silence of bush at night — A 
perplexing adventure — Horse brought back by Khourabene — A 
" dropped hip " — We are thrown out uf cart and feel injured by 
horse's indifference to what has happened — Traces repaired with 
knitting-cotton. 

DcRiNG the long hot summers of Western Australia the 
bush was gradually denuded of the dried-up grass and 
herbage which forms the food of both sheep and cattle at 
that season, and by the time that the first showers of rain 
fell but little was left to supply the wants of the flocks 



Digitized 



by Google 



236 SKETCHES IN WESTERN A USTRALIA. 

and herds except the curious foliage of the Xanthorrhoeas, 
usually called ** blackboy grass." The mid-winter months, 
howeyer, reinforced the country with fresh stores of both 
grass and water, and though, as I have said in the last 
chapter, the time was not favourable for making excll^ 
sions of mere pleasure, there was no other so suitable for 
the dispatch of exploring parties in search of new sheep- 
runs, or in pursuit of still more important objects of 
discovery. 

We were present at the departure of one such expedi- 
tion, which was sent out in order to complete certain 
promising discoveries to the eastward which had been 
commenced the year before. 'On the former occasion the 
leader had succeeded in carrying his party across a rugged 
belt of rocky waterless ground, and through a wide track 
of almost impervious scrub, to a plain which had been de- 
scribed by the natives beforehand sts abounding with emus 
and kangaroos. As the presence of these animals on any 
considerable extent of country is a certain proof of the 
existence of both grass and water, great hopes were ente^ 
tained that the small plain of pasture land, upon which 
the adventurers had succeeded in arriving, would prove to 
be the commencement of a really valuable district. 

Unfortunately the season was one of great drought, 
the winter rains had been confined to the country near 
the coast, and had not extended to the interior ; the sur- 
face water had nearly all been dried up by the sun, so 
that at each water hole that could be discovered the 
supply was so scanty as to be barely sufficient for their 
wants. The plain itself seemed to be well wutered in 
ordinary seasons, and the indications of the country around 



Digitized 



by Google 



HAMPTON PLAINS. 237 

all seemed favourable, but after the most careful search 
not a single spring or well could be discovered, and all 
hope of farther progress that season being at an end, the 
party contented themselves with naming their discovery 
the ** Hampton Plains," in honour of the Governor, and 
turned back to await a kindlier winter. 

The second expedition of which we witnessed' the 
departure was composed of three gentlemen as leaders, 
and a mixed party of pensioners and convicts to act 
as road-makers and well-sinkers. The intention of the 
Grovemment in sending out so strong a body of men was 
to open a fairly practicable track, over which sheep and 
cattle might travel in safety, leading to the country which 
had been discovered on the previous occasion. Having 
reached this spot, and having marked out the road and 
planned the wells, the larger number of the convicts were 
to be left to finish the works, under supervision of the 
pensioners, whilst the le«ulers, with a much smaller party, 
should prosecute the search to the eastward, and also in a 
southern and northern direction. 

Much curiosity had been excited by the promising 
character given of the Hampfon Plains, and some persons 
were even so sanguine as to hope that they would prove 
the commencement of a line of country stretching away 
so far to the east and south as at length to join some 
portion of the territory of South Australia. The wish for 
such a communication with the sister colony was devoutly 
expressed by all the settlers, but the hope of really finding 
it had long since died out of most people's minds. 

The mere starting of so large a party of riders and 
«umpter horses, increased also by the company of many 



Digitized 



by Google 



238 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA, 

persons who wished to see the safe beginning of the march, 
and to accompany the explorers as far as their first night's 
halting-ground, caused much stir and bustle in Barladong; 
everyone turned out of doors to wave a farewell, and even 
in the schools ** expedition " became a favourite word to 
set as a copy in the writing lessons of that week. But the 
season was neither propitious nor well selected, and, as 
there had lately been a series of rather dry winters, the 
supply of water in the bush proved scantier than ever, 
justifying the forebodings of experienced persons, who had 
feared that the time was inoppoi'tune for making fresh 
discoveries. 

In some places it was evident that no rain had fallen 
for two years, and it soon became equally plain that, 
unless water could be found, the lives of all would be 
sacrificed by any attempt to penetrate the interior to a 
greater distance. It was therefore agreed that the idea of 
investigating the grass plains must be once more aban- 
doned, and the baffled expedition retraced its steps, bearing 
a heavy load of disappointment, as well as a few bush 
curiosities picked up in the course of the march. 

Two little puppies of the wild dog or dingo were 
amongst the live-stock of the return party, much to the 
disgust of the country settlers, who seemed to think that 
the explorers in their character of bearers of ill news 
needed not to have added this aggravation. " Was it not 
vexatious enough," they said, "that the expedition had 
failed to find new land, without bringing back native 
dogs to eat up people's sheep on such land as was there 
already?" Considering, however, that the Hampton 
Plains were dependent on surface-water only, the fact 



Digitized 



by Google 



WILD DOG. 239 

of their continuing a terra incognita might possibly have 
been a fitter subject for rejoicing than was dreamt of in 
the colonist's philosophy. A successful survey of the 
plains would have been followed by the dispatch of men 
and sheep to take possession of them, perchance but to 
meet the same fate that befell the flock-owners of the 
riverless northern districts of South Australia, where, after 
a long continuance of drought in the deadly season of 1865, 
the stock entirely perished, and the proprietors narrowly 
escaped with their own lives. 

As to the wild dogs, their race had been so carefully 
extinguished, in the vicinity of Barladong, that the only 
living specimen I ever saw was one of the before-mentioned 
puppies. It was black and sleek, with long pricked ears, 
and had an eager, restless look, which appeared to justify 
the sheep-farmers' animosity ; moreover, the unlucky 
wretch, as if resolved to run headlong upon its fate, set to 
work killing chickens like an old hand at the first civilized 
tenement to which it was introduced. The origin of these 
dogs is quite a mystery ; that they are not indigenous in 
Australia is universally allowed, and conjecture runs wild 
as to whether their progenitors swam ashore from a ship- 
wreck, or were landed ■ from canoes, in company with the 
persons by whom the continent was originally peopled. 

There was another class of persons, unconnected with 
explorers, who chose the winter as the most favourable 
time for wanderings in the bush, and not a year passed 
without instances, more or less alarming, of prisoners run- 
ning away from road parties and becoming bushrangers. 
The frequent recurrence of such events caused Binnahan to 
decide very confidently that an engraving in an illustrated 



Digitized 



by Google 



240 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

almanack, which the artist had intended to be a represen- 
tation of Shakspeare's arrest by Sir Thomas Lucy's game- 
keepers, was " a picture of bushrangers/* 

To all outward appettrance nothing is more probable 
than that a large number of convicts should escape at any 
moment The convict depots in the country districts are 
so unprotected that there seems no reason why the men 
should not walk away, without even the preliminary <rf 
knocking down a warder. Still more incapable than the 
depot warder of retaining his so-called prisoners in custody 
does the officer in charge of a road party at first sight 
appear. His position, to the eye of a stranger, would 
present that of one who was abandoned to the mercy of 
sixteen or twenty desperate men, beyond sight or sound 
of aid except the chance passing of a teamster, whose own 
antecedents would probably be similar to those of the 
wayside gang. The truth is, that the detention of the 
prisoners, and consequently the safety of the free com- 
munity in Western Australia, has depended mainly on 
the impassable and inhospitable character of the bush, 
which serves the purpose of a vast wall around a natural 
jail the inmates of which, as a policeman once said to 
us, " may escape from the prison, but cannot get out of 
the prison yard." 

As a body the prisoners have sense enough to know that 
a certain amount of restraint upon their liberty is better 
for them than to become complete outlaws by attempting 
acts of violence, with the alternative of the gallows if 
captured, or a death by hunger and thirst in the bush 
if free. Nevertheless, as surely as winter filled the water 
holes, we used to hear of escapes from the road parties. 



Digitized 



by Google 



REVOLVER A BAIT FOB BUSHBANGEBS. 241 

Most of the fugitives were probably more anxious for 
change and adventure than anything else, while each 
individual secretly cherished the idea that he could suc- 
ceed, though many had failed, in accomplishing a final exit 
from the colony. As a riddance of the prison dress must 
of course be effected without loss of time, the first act 
always was to enter some lonely house and seize upon 
clothes and such fire-arms as came to hand, and, when once 
possessed of these, the bushrangers, as they were thence- 
forth called, wandered about till recaptured, seldom com- 
mitting worse violence than frightening people into giving 
them anything and everything that they demanded. 

To inspire the degree of dread sufficient for levying 
supplies guns were absolutely necessary, and those house- 
holders who owned a fowling-piece or rifle were, on that 
very account, more liable than other persons to receive 
domiciliary visits in search of weapons. I have seen the 
mistress of a family oppressed with a sense of insecurity 
because it was " known ** that there was a revolver in her 
house, and a call might therefore be 'looked for from the 
bushrangers who were then abroad, on any day that they 
had ascertained the absence of the master. 

Compared with the number of prisoners who were at 
large, whilst we were in the colony, there were not as many 
cases of attacks fatal to life as might have been expected, 
but the encounter with the police, when the prisoners were 
once more apprehended, rarely took place without blood- 
shed, and two captured men were at different times brought 
in wounded to Barladong. One party of bushrangers 
deliberately murdered a former convict, in whose house 
they bad taken shelter whilst evading the police, and also 



Digitized 



by Google 



242 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

indirectly caused the death of another, by first making 
him excessively drunk, in payment for fetching them a 
keg of spirits from a cave whero it had been hidden, and 
then leaving him lying in the bush exposed to the full 
heat of the sun. Late in the night the head warder of 
the convict depot aroused my husband, and begged him to 
return with him to visit the poor creature in the hospital, 
to which he had just been brought, scorched beyond hope 
of recovery, although the summer was not fully begun or 
the heat yet very intense. He was barely able to relate 
what had occurred, and died in an hour or two afterwards. 

In the task of searching for runaway prisoners the police 
are almost always assisted by native constables, whose 
keen sight and extraordinary powers of observation are 
capable of following a track even over the hardest rocks, 
a circumstance well calculated to excite our wonder, in spite 
of our knowing that the natives' familiarity ^vith the bare 
ground dates from the time when it was his nursery floor. 

Confirmed runaways, who had given much trouble to 
the police, were punished by being placed in the chain- 
gang at the " Establishment " ; but there were some men 
who seemed to be proof against all impediments, and more 
than one escape, even from this heavily-ironed crew, 
occurred whilst we were in the colony. The fetters that 
they carried were of such size and weight that the first 
time I ever saw the gang I turned my head on its 
approach to look, as I supposed, at a jingling team of 
horses coming up behind us. I then perceived that the 
noise was caused by the irons on the legs and feet of fifty 
men who were walking, or rather shuflling along, in ranks 
of four abreast, and dressed in parti-coloured clothea 



Digitized 



by Google 



CONDITIONAL PABBONS. 243 

Before the prisoners marched soldiers with mounted 
bayonets, and behind, bringing up the rear, were other 
soldiers carrying revolvers on the full cock. The chain- 
gang was being thus escorted back to the " Establishment '' 
after working on the road, and the sight W6is most painful, 
for though each individual had probably deserved hanging, 
one could not help feeling that the present condition of 
most of the prisoners wfts in all likelihood the inevitable 
result of bad early training. 

When we first went to Western Australia it was cus- 
tomary for convicts who had served a portion of their 
sentence to receive what was called a conditional pardon, 
by which they were free to leave the colony, and to land 
in the ports of any part of the world, those of Great 
Britain and Ireland alone excepted; but this licence 
naturally causing a migratory flow of convicts to Mel- 
bourne and Adelaide, rendering necessary to those colonies 
a great and expensive police force, they, by their inter- 
colonial laws, have refused to recognize the validity of 
conditional pardons, and compel all persons who come 
fix>m Swan Eiver to show certificates of having entered the 
latter place as free men, before permitting them to step 
ashore. 

Even when the passports are pronounced satisfactory 
the owners of them think it best to say as little as may 
be, after landing, of ever having been in Swan Eiver. I 
learned this by reading a letter which an emigrant had 
received from a friend in Adelaide, warning him, in case 
he came there, not to speak of any acquaintance with 
Western Australia. The truth is, the neighbouring colonies 
are justified in suspecting that a good deal of contraband 



Digitized 



by Google 



244 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA, 

humanity is landed on their coasts in spite of preventive 
measures, and instances occurred under our own knowledge 
of men with condition^ pardons having left Western Aus- 
tralia for Adelaide, and successfully running the blockade. 

One of these adventurers had married an emigrant girl 
who sympathized but little in his desire to get away, and 
urged upon him that it was better to remain where his 
past life was already known, than to live elsewhere in 
continual dread of recognition. However, her argumente 
were no match for his determination, and, having contrived 
to land in Adelaide without detection, he sent for her to 
join him there, though not till after the lapse of so many 
months as made us fear that he intended to cut himself 
altogether adrift fh)m his wife. A letter that he wrote us, 
full of joy on meeting her again, was a satisfactory proof 
of the injustice of our apprehensions. 

The conferring of conditional pardons came to an end 
before our return to England, and, though their abolition 
was a matter of necessity if the other colonies were to be 
kept in good humour, yet it bore hard upon some indivi- 
duals who wished to recover their respectability, and were 
now, as they said, deprived of all incitement to good 
behaviour by being compelled to remain for the full length 
of their sentence in no better position than that of prisoners 
released upon their ticket-of-leave, unable to be abroad 
after ten at night, or to carry a gun, or to remove into 
another district without a written pass which must be 
vidi on reaching a police-station. 

A conditional pardon, on the other hand, had invested 
its owner with a kind of staiuSy which a man so much 
valued that it was a pledge for improvement in bis 



Digitized 



by Google 



SOURCES OF DISCONTENT. 245 

conduct, despite the inconceivable diflSculty besetting such 
an attempt on the part of a convict in Western Australia. 
His own class is continually robbing him or throwing 
temptations in his way ; false swearing out of spite goes on 
to a firightful extent, and the man who wishes to live in 
peace and keep out of mischief can do so only by avoiding, 
as much as possible, all communication with his neigh- 
bours. 

It may easily be imagined that, as so large a part of 
human sorrow springs from crime, there can be no place 
where misery, of one kind or other, comes oftener before 
the eyes than in a penal settlement ; in fact we used to feel 
that, until we lived in one, we had never seen thorough 
wretchedness. But it was too unlike a " locus penitentisB " 
for a parallel with Dante's purgatory, even though the 
scene of the last-named place, by a strange coincidence, is 
laid in the southern hemisphere. 

It was also a fruitful source of discontent that in case 
the employer of a ticket-of-leave holder brought a charge 
against him resulting in imprisonment, he might be, and 
sometimes was, mulcted of all wages that were due to him 
before committing the offence, besides being sent to jail — 
a state of law which offered a temptation to such masters 
as were needy and unprincipled to pick a quarrel with a 
convict servant, (when the work was completed which he 
had been hired to do,) in order to escape the payment of 
the wages due by accusing him of damaging property or 
neglecting his duties. 

The crowning grievance, however, was the system, 
which universally prevailed in the colony, of paying wages 
by truck, every up-country settler keeping a shop or store 



Digitized 



by Google 



246 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTBALIA. 

for his labourers, and uniting in his own person tiie 
various callings of grocer, flour dealer, butcher, boot- 
maker, and seller of ready-made clothes to his own men. 
There is no need to point out the probability that this 
arrangement should be abused, or to say much of the evils 
of an institution which, at home, has been thought so 
intolerable as to be abolished by Act of Parliament. 

Most things, however, are modified by change of locality, 
and the prominent feature that '* truck" exhibits, in a 
penal settlement, is that of being the best scheme which 
ever was devised for disgusting rogues with honest labour. 
Whilst it chafes the free labourer it utterly disheartens 
the convict ; and a disheartened convict is a hardened one, 
infinitely less ashamed to be drafted back to the ^ Esta- 
blishment " than is a labourer at home to apply for out- 
door parochial relief. 

I remember that a ticket-of-leave man and his wife 
came to ask our help who had taken service upon a written 
agreement as to wages, though neither of them could read 
writing. On dismissal by the master they were paid 
nothing, as it appeared by the employer's reckoning that 
they had already received from him, whilst in his service, 
goods to the full value of all wages that they were entitled 
to demand. The man and his wife were utterly penniless, 
and begged us, besidei^ the food that we gave them, to 
lend them a covering for the night The pair ought, 
however, as the wolf suggested to the crane in the feble, 
to have felt thankful that they escaped so well, for the 
truck arithmetic is not famous for striking an even balance, 
being, on the contrary, much better adapted for finding a 
servant in his master's debt. When this discovery has 



Digitized 



by Google 



TBUCK. 247 

been once made, the servant may calculate his chances of 
solyency by working the traditional question in arithmetic 
as to the time that it will take a frog !to get out of a well 
who climbs two feet upwards every day, and falls three 
feet downwards every night, applying the answer to his 
own ease. 

It would, moreover, be erroneous to suppose that the 
truck system affects only the parties who are immediately 
concerned in it. For instance, a shoemaker brought home 
to my husband a pair of boots that he had ordered, and 
asked a sovereign for them, and when the price was 
objected to as being unreasonably high the shoemaker 
acknowledged that it was so, but said that he felt justified 
in asking it ever since learning that the same kind of boots 
with which he supplied a store at fifteen shillings the pair, 
were there retailed at the price of a pound. The shoe- 
maker had gained his information by doing harvest work 
for the storekeeper and receiving, in part payment of it, a 
pair of these identical boots, which, when thus returned to 
their manufacturer in the form of wages, were considered 
to represent five shillings more than the sum at which he 
himself had originally valued them. 

I often thought that there was a strong likeness be- 
tween a system of truck and slavery, and one family 
feature, common to both, may certainly be found in the 
manner in which each is softened or made worse accord- 
ing to the circumstances and disposition of individual 
masters. We knew one who, so far from enriching him- 
self at the expense of his men, supplied them with flour, 
when it was dear, at a lower cost than its real value ; but 
benevolence of this kind, in the small thanks that it re- 



Digitized 



by Google 



248 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTBALIA. 

ceived, served less to redeem the character of ** truck*' 
than to render it odious from another point of view. A 
state of things that admits of the employer being general 
purveyor to his labourers is fraught with such obvious 
advantages to the principal, that, rightly or wrongly, he 
will always be suspected by his servants of making a 
profit on their wages, and this suspicion, in destroying 
all proper relations between the two parties, diminishes 
respect, and is incompatible with gratitude. 

Another disastrous consequence of paying wages in 
goods is the improvident habits that it encourages in the 
£Eimilies of labouring men. I think it is Archdeacon 
Paley of whom the anecdote is told, that he always ma<^e 
**his women pay ready money for all that they bought, 
because it was such a check to the imagination." Now 
the sprightly fancy of a working man's wife who, instead 
of receiving from the husband's pay a weekly sum to lay 
out and to make the best oi^ is compelled to have a run- 
ning account at the master's store, has no such wholesome 
check, and as she seldom or never has the handling of 
money she does not learn its value. 

What with truck and barter the young people espe- 
cially could scarcely be expected to know the real worth 
of any article which was procured from shops or stores. 
I heard a characteristic proof of this from a lady, who had 
unfortunately neutralized a lecture to her servant on the 
care which was necessary to save a wooden bucket from 
being spoiled by the sun, by specifying the number of 
years that she had had the same bucket in use. '^If it 
is as old as all that," replied the little colonial damselt 
" it is quite time it should be worn out" 



Digitized 



by Google 



A SHEPHEEB'S HOLIDAY. 249 

If a ** privileged class" can be said to exist in the 
colony, it is that of the shepherds, who receive their 
wages unabated by truck, and are paid from thirty to 
forty pounds a year with the addition of their food; 
nevertheless, the men's own folly, combined with other 
agencies, will often rid them of a twelvemonth's wages in 
a few days. A shepherd comes into a town for a holiday, 
after a year or two's solitary life in the bush, much like a 
sailor going ashore from a long voyage ; he wants amuse- 
ment, and in absolute default of anything better, goes 
into a public-house, and remains there, drinking and treat- 
ing others, until the publican knows that his customer has 
no money left, and dismisses him to begin the world again. 
In this way, incredible and disgusting as it may appear, 
we have known of shepherds getting through two years' 
wages in one fortnight, without ever stirring from the 
public-house into which they first entered. 

That the character of the tap-rooms in Western Aus- 
tralia is often very bad needs no stretch of the imagina- 
tion to conceive, and, in such cases as these that I allude 
to, actual robbery has, no doubt, often assisted the drink 
in dispersing a man's money; but that there were pub- 
licans who would permit men to be drunk continuously 
for days together, was a fetct not to be controverted. The 
duty upon spirits, which is something like a tax of eleven 
shillings upon each gallon sold in the colony, instead of 
being prohibitory has only helped to make the matter 
worse, having led, as might have been foreseen, to an ex- 
cessive amount of adulteration, and to this cause, rather 
than to the climate, which is sometimes supposed to induce 
it, may be ascribed the frequent instances of insanity. 



Digitized 



by Google 



250 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

A benevolent person whom we knew proposed the esta- 
blishment of a savings' bank for the shepherds, and en- 
deavoured to induce an old colonist to assist him in the 
scheme, but only met the answer, "Teach 'em to save 
their money ? that's not what we want ; if they once begfin 
saving they will be our servants no longer!" And the 
stupid old man, who had himself begun life as a day 
labourer in England, could not be brought to see that to 
improve the condition of individuals would help to enrich 
the community at large. 

Good servants, however, who were bent on saving, could 
contrive to put by money in spite of all disadvantages; 
and a French convict, who afterwards bought land and 
did very well, once brought to my husband as much as 
thirty-eight pounds of his earnings, with the request that 
he would take care of the sum for him. I was glad when 
the Frenchman carried away his bank-notes a few weeks 
afterwards, for in Western Australia no one feels safe 
with money in the house or on the person, so that cheques 
are given for simis as low as half a sovereign. 

Money, however, is so very scarce in the colony, that if 
we wanted change for a five-pound note we were generally 
obliged to take a part of it in little scraps of paper, cm 
which were written "orders" upon different persons for 
the value of a few shillings ; while labour was by no means 
the only commodity which was paid for by the primitive 
practice of barter. There was nothing imcommon in hear- 
ing of a dog being exchanged for a gallon of wine, or of a 
sempstress receiving a couple of fowls in return for needle- 
work — ^an embarrassing mode of transacting business, even 
when people are ever so well disposed to pay what they 



Digitized 



by Google 



UNSATISFACTORY BARTEB, 251 

owe, and their creditors willing to take an equivalent in 
any imaginable form. For instance, a man went to some 
persons of our acquaintance living in the bush to ask 
them for the payment of twenty-three shillings that' they 
owed him — a sum of money which in England he would 
hardly have thought it necessary to take a cart and horse 
to bring away, as if he had been carrying bullion to the 
mint ; nevertheless on the occasion of which I am about 
to speak, a tumbril of some kind or other would have 
been found extremely convenient. 

Arrived at the house, and preferring his request, he was 
told by the inmates that it was impossible for them to 
pay him in money, as they possessed none; they there- 
fore looked about for what they could give him instead, 
and the wealth of a bush lady consisting principally in 
her poultry, she proposed paying him in eggs, of which at 
the latter end of winter a prodigious number tire laid 
by the unlimited number of hens which roam around the 
lonely dwellings, and roost upon the trees or roofs, ac- 
cording to their fancy. To this the man consented, seeing 
no other probable way of getting paid, and a basket 
being found which could somehow be fitted on his back, it 
was forthwith packed with eggs, a dozen for each shilling, 
which was one more egg than the current shillingsworth 
at that time, as the debtors were anxious to do the thing 
handsomely, and it was, no doubt, solely in mercy to their 
creditor's bones that they were not more generous. 

With this freight it might be supposed that he would at 
once have gone, or rather staggered, to market; but 
amongst other hindrances to trade, markets have no ex- 
istence in the colony, and there is no choice but to take 



Digitized 



by Google 



252 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTBALIA. 

farm produce to the stores, where goods only are given 
in exchange for it, unless the would-be seller is content 
to take much less than its value. At the nearest store 
therefore, which was seven miles oflF, being imwilling to 
take payment in kind twice in one day, he was fain to 
accept one shilling for sixteen eggs, instead of for eleven; 
but this was so disheartening that he tried hawking the 
remainder at private houses, and having thus disposed of 
some few dozen eggs on rather better terms, and broken a 
good part in the frequent shiftings, he ended by clearing 
fifteen shillings, and thinking that he had not made a bad 
day's work. 

Perhaps a sort of payment even more mortifying than 
the last was one that I heard of from a woman .who, in 
place of eleven shillings that were due^ to her, received a 
certain quantity of melons and almonds — an arrangement 
to which she agreed, like the man who took the eggs, be- 
cause no better mode of settling her claim was forthcoming, 
but which rendered long hours of laborious needlework as 
unprofitable to her as if their sole object had been that of 
supplying her family with sweetmeats. 

I adverted a few pages back to some of the social dis- 
abilities which the ticket-of-leave holders found so galling, 
but they had this one advantage over men who boasted 
conditional pardons, that the former were admitted into 
hospital without any difiiculty, whereas the latter, if re- 
ceived as patients at all, were expected to pay five shil- 
lings a week, unless the charge was specially remitted 
through a representation to the stipendiary magistrate from 
the medical officer. 

In nothing did the true character of the colony as a vast 

DigitizfeSby Google 



SICK CONVICTS. 253 

jail more strikingly appear than in the fact that the 
clergyman of a district had no discretionary power in such 
cases. A man, for instance, would present himself at the 
parsonage very ill, and wanting help immediately, but with 
no means of paying for it — more frequently than not he 
had journeyed on foot for a long distance — the doctor 
might be absent, (sent for perhaps to attend an accident 
a hundred miles away,) and, if the magistrate refused to 
admit the applicant into the hospital without the normal 
medical certificate, we either must turn the man away in 
his suffering condition, or take the course usually pursued 
by my husband, which was to nurse the man himself at our 
own home until the doctor's return, when if we succeeded 
in gaining the benefits of the hospital for the patient, well 
and good, but in event of the contrary we retained him 
under our own care. 

Close to our house, and \nthin the enclosure of our 
field, we had an empty cottage in which at difierent times 
we lodged seyeral poor sick wayfarers, and though all of 
them were convicts, we never missed an article from our 
premises during four out of the five years that we spent in 
the colony. At the latter end of our stay, when transpor- 
tation was drawing to a close, and the mother-country was 
availing itself of the last remaining chance to be rid of its 
worst criminals, we could not boast of such complete im- 
munity from theft, but I do not believe even then that we 
were ever injured by any whom we had nursed in illness. 

We used occasionally to make jelly for the men in hos- 
pital, until the doctor, at whose request we had done so, 
left the neighbourhood, and was succeeded by another, who 
begged us to discontinue our cookery, as without the most 



Digitized 



by Google 



254 SKETCHES IN WESTERN A USTBALIA. 

stringent rules against all presents to the invalids from 
persons without the walls, it was impossible to hinder the 
introduction of spirituous liquors concealed under one guise 
or another. 

The patients in the hospital were waited upon by order- 
lies selected from the prisoners in the depot, and there 
was an old fellow who so long filled the situation that 
one might have supposed he had been permanently elected 
to it, but the truth was, he could not be happy beyond the 
well-known prison walls, and if ever released upon his 
ticket-of-leave lost no time in trying to forfeit it, that he 
might be drafted back again to his accustomed home. He 
had been a sailor in his earlier days, and to live under 
some kind of discipline was, perhaps, become to him a 
second nature. However we lost sight of him at last, and 
a young prisoner replaced him who was as anxious to re- 
gain his liberty as the older one had been to part with it, 
and soon after his appointment very joyfully announced to 
us a remission that he had received of six months from the 
term of his original sentence, in consideration of protracted 
night nursing in various bad cases. On account of this 
man's kindness to the sick my husband took much interest 
in him, but we did not remain long enough in the colony 
to see how he would go on after liberation. 

There are many persons who are fit for pupilage only, 
and one finds this eminently the case v^ith convicts, some 
of whom, so long as they can work under another's eye, 
will fulfil certain allotted tasks exceedingly well, and show 
also much amiability of disposition ; but the same men, if 
removed from control and allowed to become their own 
masters, will almost immediately be guilty of the most 



Digitized 



by Google 



DEFICIENCY OF DENTISTS. 255 

cbUdish misdemeanours. Whether this would be the case 
with poor " Eother," we had not the opportunity of know- 
ing, owing to our early departure. 

Whilst serving as hospital orderly he had picked up 
some medical skill, and told us that he intended, when re- 
leased, to turn it to account by following the trade of a 
dentist. In this he would then have been troubled with 
no competition but secure of an extensive practice, that 
is, if he knew how to supply false teeth, for, as far as tooth 
drawing is concerned, the dry climate pretty well super- 
sedes the need of pincers and forceps by causing the teeth 
to drop out even though undecayed. It is sadly frequent 
to meet with comparatively young persons who have lost 
aU their front teeth, and yet the profession of manufac- 
turing dentist is scarcely represented in the colony, and 
if, now and then, a travelling one appears, forthwith a rush 
IS made by old and young to obtain his services. 

The most skilful of these itinerant dentists was a French 
Colonel of Zouaves, who had been so severely wounded, in 
winning his many decorations, that he could attain a mo- 
derate degree of health only by constant change of scene, 
and paid his expenses in journeying over the world by 
practising dentistry as he went along. The deplorable 
demand for an artificial supply of what the climate had 
removed, was a circumstance as lucky to himself as his 
accidental landing was to the inhabitants of Western Aus- 
tralia, and he carried off a rich harvest in fees, together 
with the pleasant consciousness of having retrieved to 
many youthful faces their lost good looks. 

There is an old French saying that with fine eyes no one 
is thoroughly ugly and with bad teeth no one is completely 



Digitized 



by Google 



256 SKETCHES IN. WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

beautiful ; now the climate of Western Australia, as if de- 
termined to reduce good looks to their lowest possihle 
level, is not only inimical to the teeth but to the eyes alsa 
As far as regards healthfulness I have no other drawbacks 
to mention, but these are very decided ones, and interfere 
not less with comfort than with beauty. 

Severe cases of ophthalmia are happily less common nov 
than in the early days of the settlement ; whilst on the 
other hand influenza, or colonial fever as it is sometimes 
more correctly called, has become a prevalent complaint, 
almost an annual epidemic. Nevertheless affections of the 
eyes begin from the cradle, and are so often repeated during 
childhood as much to diminish the size of the feature, and 
to render a fine pair of eyes of rather unusual occurrence. 
Grown people are by no means exempt from this kind of 
affliction, yet the children seemed to have the largest; 
share of it, partly, as I believe, from their eyes being 
nearer to the ground, off which, in summer-time, the ra- 
diated heat strikes like the hot breath of an oven« 

Besides other predisposing causes, there is a species of 
fly which bites the eyelid in a most vicious manner, pro- 
ducing so much inflammation and swelling as to com- 
pletely close up the eye — " bunging" it as the colonial 
phrase goes, an expression rather perplexing to a stranger 
when asked for the first time in a sympathizing manner, 
" whether he has ever been bunged?" With children the 
evil of a bunged eye does not always vanish with the sub- 
siding of the swelling, but occasionally leaves a permanent 
squint 

As soon as the poor people found that we could com- 
pose eye- water it was in continual request, and though we 



Digitized 



by Google 



MEASLES, 257 

had neither rose nor distilled water to improve its cha- 
racter, yet the old remedy of sulphate of zinc stood its 
ground and gave great relief. As a set-off to these attacks 
of sore and inflamed eyes from which the children espe- 
cially suffer, they enjoy a complete immunity from 
measles and hooping-cough, unless, indeed, these should 
happen to be introduced into the colony through inat- 
tention to the laws of quarantine. On more than one 
occasion that these complaints have been thus imported, 
they have run rapidly through the colony, but, after a 
time have again died out, without subsiding into the 
position that they occupy in England of constant and 
chronic evils. 

Measles were brought into Western Australia, in 1860, 
from a ship that entered King George's Sound and landed 
one person ill with the disorder. It spread widely and 
rapidly, assuming a very virulent character, more espe- 
cially amongst the natives, of whom so many died that 
both they and the colonists in alluding to the visitation 
spoke of it in terms that would have been almost appU- 
cable to a time of pestilence. 

A lady of our acquaintance told me that on getting up 
one morning, she found a native woman who had been 
suffering from measles lying dead outside the house. As 
my friend had relieved her on the previous day, and had 
afterwards assisted her in walking to a distance of about 
a quarter of a mile, she presumed that the poor creature 
must have found herself abandoned by the other natives, in 
terror of the infectious nature of the disease, and that she 
had therefore crawled back alone to the homestead in the 
night rather than die in solitude. It so happened that the 



Digitized 



by Google 



258 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

two sons who composed the lady's family were both absent 
and that, with the exception of a convict man-servant who 
refused to touch the body, there was no one but herself to 
perform the last offices. This man consented, however, to dig 
a grave, to which she with her own hands conveyed the life- 
less remains of her poor fellow-creature in a wheel-barrow, 
and, without his further help, laid her in the ground. 

The ignorance that we noticed amongst many of the 
colonists as to the commonest appliances for slight acci- 
dental ailments certainly bore testimony to the fineness 
of the climate, which, by rendering sickness rare, had 
caused homely remedies to be seldom studied ; but, even 
if the " simples " which every cottage herb-bed at home 
furnishes had been in vogue, they could have thriven only 
in such spots as were moistened by underground springs. 
No doubt there must be native plants which, if their pro- 
perties were known, might be made serviceable in illness ; 
but beyond the red gum that flows from the tree of that 
name {Eucalyptus resinifera), which is useful in checking 
dysentery, I heard of no colonial specific. Neither, witli 
the exception of native tea and native hops, did I ever 
hear of any plants which had been used for infusions. 

The native hop is a little ground-plant, named by 
botanists Erythrea Avstralis, with which, on account of its 
intensely bitter taste, sugar-beer used to be flavoured when 
English hops could not be procured. As to the native 
tea, of which I never heard the botanical name, its quali- 
ties seem to* be chiefly of a negative sort It certainly 
did not "inebriate," and the only "cheerfulness" con- 
nected with it appeared to arise from the pleasure with 
which people reflected that they were now no longer 



Digitized 



by Google 



MR, HOLLO WAY. 259 

obliged to drink it. They regarded it as a tking of the 
past, belonging to the hard old times when China tea was 
often beyond the reach of thirsty colonists. 

The great medical authority of persons residing in the 
bush is Mr. HoUoway, whose merits receive ample com- 
pensation abroad for being somewhat overlooked at home: 
His portrait is hung affectionately upon the parlour walls, 
and his advertisements, which set forth the suitability of 
the same medicine to a dozen different disorders, are 
swallowed with as much good faith as the pills themselves. 
All things considered, the bush folks might have a worse 
guide, for Mr. HoUoway's sysjem has at least the recom- 
mendation of simplicity, and as there appears to be no 
greater mortality amongst those who take the pills than 
those who leave them alone, the natural conclusion is that 
they must be harmless. 

Nothing shows the perfection of the climate more than 
the impunity with which persons can sleep out of doors at 
all times of tl^e' year, and the extraordinary recoveries 
which take place after bad accidents, aggravated as they 
generally are by the great delay that necessarily occurs 
in a large and thinly-populated country before medical 
help ctin be procured. A proof of this postponement came 
under our own immediate notice. We were sitting one 
evening, reading quietly, when a rap at the door btartled 
us, and on opening it we found a man standing outside, 
who begged us to tell him how he could procure admission 
into the hospital for a young woman who had been most 
dreadfully burnt many hours before. She was subject to 
fits, he said, and in one of them had fallen down close to 
the hut fire with one of her legs across the burning brands 



Digitized 



by Google 



260 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

and had not been discovered until her thick leather boot 
was almost entirely consumed. She appeared to have 
had her baby of ten weeks old in her arms, and to have 
dropped it as she fell, for the child was on the floor near 
the fire, but had rolled itself out of danger. All this had 
happened in the forenoon, and the evening was now &r 
advanced; much of the intermediate time having been 
unavoidably lost by the man in procuring the loan of a 
cart to convey her to the nearest town for help. 

We scarcely knew what to do or what to advise ; the 
convict hospital contained no accommodation for women» 
the reception of whom in 9uch a place had never been 
contemplated, and, to involve us still further in difficulty, 
the colonial surgeon, who resided at the depdt, was from 
home. We followed the man to our slip-rail where he 
had left the woman lying in the cart, and when we came 
close to it we heard a low delirious voice talking about a 
baby, but the darkness of the night prevented our dis- 
tinguishing the speaker for the first few moments, or 
perceiving that a good Samaritan was already there 
before us, in the person of a poor Irishwoman from a 
cottage over the way, who had previously directed the 
man to our door, and was now standing beside the cart 
trying to make the sufferer drink a cup of tea. 

My husband decided that we must carry her into our 
own house, which we immediately did, and Idd her in a 
bed as carefully as possible ; both of her feet were burned, 
and on one leg so large a surface of skin was destroyed 
that it was but too evident that nothing less than ampu- 
tation would be of any avail, as proved to be the case a 
week after, when the leg was taken off considerably above 



Digitized 



by Google 



ACCIDENTS. 261 

the knee, FAlso, though we did not discover the full 
extent of mischief on our first examination, the flies, those 
terrible accompaniments to neglected wounds in a warm 
cb'mate, bad already attacked the bums. 

The presence of so young a baby served still further to 
complicate the whole affair, and Eosa, whose kind nature 
was always ready at suggesting help, sent off a messenger 
to her sister, begging that she would come and take care 
of it As to the poor woman herself she was one of the 
lowest description, both in character and class, and to all 
appearance sufficiently contented with her calling to desire 
no change for a better ; nevertheless she bore most intense 
pain with an unselfish courage which commanded our 
admiration, frequently through the night begging us all 
to go to bed, and, as she expressed it, "not to mind her." 

But the hardest trial to patient endurance, on the occur- 
rence of any bad accident in the bush, is not so much the 
time that is required to fetch a doctor as the solitary 
position of the sufferer, who lies helplessly awaiting the 
discovery of his condition by some chance passer-by. The 
bush is so lonely, even on its highways, that a poor fellow 
whom we knew lay upon the ground, with a compound 
fracture of one leg, fiom six in the morning until three in 
the afternoon before being found. His case was made 
worse by the cruelty of a fellow-servant, who was with him 
when the accident took place, and who left him, promising 
to procure help from a house which was but a few miles 
distant, but who neither returned nor sent assistance. 
The day was one of the hottest of that summer, and the 
miseries of the sufferer were further increased by the ants 
which swarmed upon him as he lay on the ground. Yet, 



Digitized 



by Google 



262 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

wonderful to relate, he neither lost his life, nor even the 
injured leg; although at one time its preservation appeared 
so impossible that the day for its amputation was actually 
fixed, and my husband was asked by the doctor to be 
present on the occasion. 

The history of another accident was told me by the 
settler's wife to whom it had occurred. Whilst driving a 
light cart alone, along a bush-track, it was overturned by 
one of the wheels striking against a ^ blackboy " stump, 
her hip being dislocated by the fall. She yet contrived, 
by crawling upon her hands and knees, to loosen the horse 
from the shafts, in the hope that his returning home with- 
out her would amiounce her disaster ; but he disappointed 
her by stopping to feed, and she continued to lie upon the 
ground in solitude and agony for many hours, sadly aware 
iilso, as the day sped on, that her prolonged absence would 
excite neither surprise nor alarm amongst her own family, 
since they knew that she had left home with the intention 
of visiting a married son, and would presume that she 
had been persuaded to sleep at his house. An old native 
woman, a great-aunt of Binnahan, accidentally discovered 
her before night in this miserable condition, and treated 
her with the kindness that characterizes the behaviour of 
the aborigines in all similar circumstances, who, if they 
meet a white person lost in the bush, will invariably do 
their utmost to assist him. 

Another lady told me that, having once lost her way on 
horseback, she tried a coo-ee on the chance of making her- 
self heard by a fellow-creature, when a native, unseen by 
her previously, appeared as suddenly as did Roderick 
Dim's men at his call, and not only guided her into the 



Digitized 



by Google 



MOURNFUL EIST0BIE8. 263 

right track, but also saw her safely to the end of her 
journey. 

But to meet help in need thus quickly, was'one unusu- 
ally happy instance to set against many a tale of agonizing 
distress, and to contrast with other cases in which human 
bones are the only records of what has been endured. 
Twice whilst we lived in Barladong were such dismal 
relics brought in from the bush and given Christian 
burial, with none but mere shreds of circumstance to 
warrant a guess as to whose were the remains ; and once 
my husband buried, as an unknown corpse, the body of a 
man who might have been recognized had any friend been 
near, and to whose identity the discovery of a bottle of 
medicine in his coat-pocket ought to have furnished an 
additional clue. 

No histories of this kind are so full of misery as those 
which are told by parents whose children have perished in 
the bush. The details of such narrations vary but little, 
and one instance will serve as a specimen of them all. 
In most eases the home has been a lonely hut, erected, 
perliaps, near some spot where the father has been em- 
ployed in felling and sawing the huge mahogany-trees, 
the place approached by a track almost invisible in sum- 
mer-time, when the wagon wheels that come so seldom 
leave but little impression in passing over the dried-up 
flowering plants. The- cleared space about a hut is as 
it were an island in the vast surrounding oceanlike wil- 
derness, into which if a little child ventures alone death 
from privation is generally the consequence, even though 
80 short a distance as a few hundred yards only may 
separate the sufferer fi:om its heart-broken parents. 



Digitized 



by Google 



264 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

In an instance that came under onr own knowledge, a 
child of three years old wandered away one morning from 
its home, and the mother, imagining that it was gone to 
watch its father at work in the saw-pit, felt no anxiety 
until her husband came home alone at dinner-time and 
asked for "little Tommy." It is impossible for words to 
picture the disordered state of a parent's mind at such a 
moment, nor will anyone doubt that the poor fellow spoke 
truth when he told us that those who had lost a child 
were &r from fit persons to conduct the search for it He 
and his half-frenzied wife examined, as they thought, 
every inch of ground for miles around their hut> and their 
search was continued through so many successive hours 
that, for a time, the father became blind with the strain 
upon his sight. In his despair he persuaded a shepherd 
to drive a flock over the ground near the hut, knowing 
that the appearance of any unexpected object amongst the 
brushwood will bring sheep to a sudden halt, and cause 
them to rush away hurriedly from the spot ; but the in- 
stinct of the dumb animals and the untiring energy of the 
parents' love were alike foiled, — weeks grew into months 
and brought no trace, and the dreary consolation alone 
remained to them that the heat was so excessive, on the 
day the child was lost, that its sufferings could not have 
lasted many hours. 

One evening, as the mother sat outside her door, in 
her own words to me "bewailing as usual,*' she saw a 
woman coming towards the hut with her apron thrown 
over a little box that she was carrying, and, instantly 
divining its contents, cried out in a distracted manner, 
before the visitor had reached the threshold, "Them's 



Digitized 



by Google 



SAMENESS OF BUSH. 265 

my Tommy's bones!" The sad little relics had been 
discoTered by a neighbour in a thicket but three quarters 
of a mile from the child's home, and the father must, as 
he said, have often passed within a few yards of the very 
spot. The body appeared to have been devoured by either 
pigs or wild dogs, and the tokens were few to identify, 
but a part of a little boot, and some scraps of a plaid frock, 
enabled the poor parents to recognize the remains as those 
of their lost darling. 

The same causes which render so difficult the finding of 
anyone who has been lost in the bush, help much to faci- 
litate the occurrence of such catastrophes. The scenery 
possesses sufficient variety to please the eye but no strik- 
ingly distinctive features to remind a person that he has 
wandered from the way, or to help him to regain it. The 
trees shut out the distant view and seem to be endlessly 
repeated, and if the traveller fares along, either thinking 
of nothing, or too much absorbed in meditation to pay 
attention to the road, one quarter of a mile's aberration 
may place him in circumstances which, for utter lone- 
liness and forlorn destitution, can find no parallel ex- 
cepting on a raft at sea. 

Those who retain their presence of mind when they 
find themselves going wrong, and who have the gift of 
what phrenologists call " locality," will generally be able 
by observing the sun or stars to strike into a right direc- 
tion, and it w^ thus that a good Irish neighbour of ours 
contrived to return safely to the company of her fellow- 
creatures, after losing her way for six hours in an attempt 
to convey her husband's dinner to him in the bush. The 
purpose of her errand shows how short a distance is quite 



Digitized 



by Google 



266 SKETCHES IlSf WESTERN AUSTRALIA^ 

sufficient to bewilder the pedestrian in such a landscape, 
and a pcx)r maid-servant, in undertaking a similar com- 
mission, got so completely astray as to be recovered only 
after a lengthened search that knocked up both men and 
horses. She owed her life to the perseverance of one of 
the party, who, when the others were for turning back and 
renouncing further search as useless, insisted, as a last 
chance, on exploring a little valley which they had not yet 
examined, and was rewarded by a faint answer to his loud 
coo-ee as he rode down the hollow. On entering the house 
the poor girl swooned away immediately, and the recol- 
lection of what she had undergone was so terrible, eqpe- 
cially of the horror of the lonely nights that her mistre^ 
told me she seldom summoned courage, after the first re- 
cital, to speak upon the subject. 

Travellers are sometimes benighted on a road which 
they know well in daylight only; there is then nodiing 
for it but to come to a stand-still, and to wait patiently for 
morning. It might naturally be supposed that a horse 
which was familiar with the way could be trusted to follow 
it ; but his choosing to do so may possibly depend on 
the comparison that he draws in his own mind between the 
supper he is likely to get at his master's stable, and 
the one he can provide for himself in the bush. Under 
these circumstances an acquaintance of ours was much 
mortified at being compelled to spend the night under a 
tree, although his horse knew every inch of ground round 
about. With the reins thrown on his neck that he might 
follow the right course towards home, the animal elected 
to remain where he already felt himself completely so, and 
where he could enjoy the grass till daylight. 



Digitized 



by Google 



A NIGHT OUT OF BOOBS. 267 

We once spent the night out of doors, when on our way 
to visit a friend whose house we had expected to reach 
early in the evening. Being ill acquainted with the road 
thither, we were uufortunate enough to alight upon a young 
misanthrope, keeping cows in a grassy place a few miles 
from what ought to have been the end of our journey, who, 
in answer to our question, "Were we on the road for 
Egoline ?** gave a very confident though erroneous affirma- 
tive. The views were so picturesque that for a mile or 
two farther we passed our time in admiring them ; but at 
last we began to think that, if we were on the right track, 
our friend's house was much farther off than we had been 
led to expect, and we looked out for it rather anxiously as 
the sun disappeared behind the woods. Once we fancied 
that we were near the place, and were sure that we could 
see upper windows with lights within them ; but these soon 
resolved themselves into little patches of the red sunset 
latticed with the boughs of intervening trees. 

Not long afterwards it became quite dark, and we found 
our wheels running on very different levels while descend- 
ing, through the ruts, on a hill so steep and stony that, 
having reached the bottom without an overturn, we thought 
it was best to leave well alone and to make up our minds 
to go no farther. We therefore came to a stand, and deter- 
mined, in colonial phrase, to " bush it "; so we unharnessed 
our horse, for whom we had luckily brought a bag of corn, 
and, having seen him begin to eat it, we collected pieces 
of "blackboy " and lighted a fire, piling it up to a great 
817^ with dead wood. We took the carriage cushions for 
our pillows, and spreading out our cloaks and rugs lay do^vn 
with our feet towards the blaze like the natives. It would 



Digitized 



by Google 



268 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

have been thoroughly pleasant, had the accommodation 
included supper as well as bed ; but what we most wished 
for was water, which of course it was impossible to procure. 
Nevertheless, I was glad for once to feel the solitariness of 
a night in the open bush, even at the expense of a little 
privation. A night bird was singing in a note something 
like a cuckoo, but with a hoarse foreign tone, and when he 
left off the silence was only once broken by a little opossum 
scampering up a tree near our fire. The picture was beau- 
tiful as we lay looking at the stars in the blue-black vault 
overhead, against which every twig and branch shone white 
as it caught the firelight, whilst the perfect stillness carried 
with it a sensation of awe. 

We were awake soon after dawn, very glad to be stirring, 
and as we were quite out of our reckoning we retraced 
our steps towards the last house which we had passed. 
The poor horse was as thirsty as ourselves, and nearly over- 
turned us in making an eager rush at a puddle near the 
wayside, but the spring when tasted was worse than nothing, 
being briny rather than brackish. About six miles from 
our sleeping-place we again espied the unlucky urchin with 
his cows ; he did not wait to confront us, but dived amongst 
the trees as soon as we came in sight. 

Our next adventure, although in the daylight> was even 
more perplexing. We had made a night's halt at the inn 
where we witnessed the execution of the black snake, and 
where not even the chance of meeting an incensed relation 
of the deceased could prevent our paying visits whenever 
ve took a holiday, for, though only twenty miles removed 
from Barladong, a different soil produced an entire change 
in th^ aspect of the forest and such great variety of beau- 



Digitized 



by Google 



ESCAPE OF HORSE, 269 

tiful flowers that, provided I could book my return by the 
next ship, I would willingly make a second voyage for the 
sake of once more seeing their like. 

On occasion, however, of the especial visit to which I 
have just referred our stay was unexpectedly prolonged, at 
the intended moment of departure, by the startling intelli- 
gence that our nag had slipped his halter in the night and 
disappeared from his stable. We were not many hours 
in suspense about him, for in the course of the afternoon 
Khourabene rode up to our inn, mounted on the runaway. 
It seemed that the horse had lost but little time in getting 
over the twenty miles which lay between the hostelry and 
our house, and having re-entered his own yard, with a flying 
mane and tail erects was instantly laid hold of by our 
native, who desired no better task than that of compelling 
the deserter to return to his duty. 

Ehourabene passed the remainder of the day in great 
dignity, sauntering about the inn door in the character of 
our groom, as we were simple enough to imagine, until we 
were undeceived by overhearing him decline to fetch water 
when the landlady asked him to do so, on the plea that he 
was " gentleman fellow, all same master." However, with 
a nice distinction of what his rank could or could not .per- 
mit, he did not refuse her next request, namely, that he 
should shoot some parroquets. 

Now it so happened that our horse, in common with 
many that are foaled and reared in the bush, had a defect 
in the hind quarters which, in colonial parlance, is called 
" a dropped hip," that is, one hip stands lower than the 
other, having either been injured by a kick from another 
colt or by striking violently against a tree when a troop 



Digitized 



by Google 



270 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

has been running wildly together, A dropped hip is no 
great disfigurement to an animal, nor does it tend very 
greatly to his prejudice unless he has had a very long 
gallop, or a very hard day's work, when the 1^ which has 
been hurt is apt to give way of a sudden and bring him 
down as if he had been shot 

We resumed our journey after waiting another night at 
the inn, thinking that we had thus given our horse suf- 
ficient rest, forgetting that, in addition to the exercise he 
had taken for his own pleasure, Khourabene, with a native's 
love for a gallop, was certain to have ridden him bach at 
no slower pace, so that we must therefore be prepared lor 
a downfall. Accordingly, when within a few miles of our 
jouraey's end and providentially at a very sandy place, 
without the least warning the dropped hip failed, and we 
were both thrown out of the dog-cart so instantaneously, 
that I could not help wishing it had been possible for us 
to have been spectators of our own speedy ejection as well 
as actors in it. 

Our joy at finding each other unhurt was changed in a 
moment into a feeling of sad dilemma, as we beheld our 
poor horse lying on the ground like one completely 
flatbed out on the road ; it was, moreover, impossible to 
raise him except by first getting him out of the traces, 
and since he had fallen in such a position as to prevent 
these being unbuckled, it was evident that, if we could not 
cut him out of his harness, he would be obliged, like other 
over-worked creatures, to die in it. 

Before leaving England my husband had received, as a 
parting gift from a relation^ a knife which was supposed 



Digitized 



by Google 



AN UPSET, 271 

to meet every exigency of colonial or civilized life upon 
all occasions in which xknives could be serviceable to man- 
kind : I need not say that, whereas he had always carried 
this knife about him when it was not wanted, he had it 
not in his pocket at a crisis which would have put its 
merits to the proofc It was a mercy that he had a razor 
to fall back on (metaphorically I mean, of course), which 
we lost no time in taking from our portmanteau, and whilst 
he cut the traces I stooped down to the horse's head, 
encouraging him with fair words to lie still, until we could 
set him at liberty. But there was no need for any repre- 
sentations on my part of the prudence of his keeping 
quiet, — the affair had evidently no novelty for him, and 
an injured conviction grew upon us, as we worked at his 
release, that he was not only equal to the situation but 
thoroughly accustomed to it also. 

We had no sooner helped him up than he showed a 
perfect indifference to what had happened by instantly 
commencing to eat " blackboy " rushes ; and the fact being 
established that he was unhurt and could stand as well as 
ever, we were next met by the question, how to reunite 
the leather traces which we had done our best to cut? I 
proposed the tearing of our pocket-handkerchiefs into 
strij)s, but my husband recollected a pair of half-finished 
socks which I had been knitting, and rightly suggested 
that they would answer better; we accordingly twisted 
the cotton into a resemblance of twine, and, the traces 
being joined by this contrivance, we once more put our 
horse into the shafts and proceeded towards home ; but 
oar confidence in him, and in the strength of our own 



Digitized 



by Google 



272 SKETCHES IN WESTEEN AUSTRALIA. 

repairs, being about equal, we walked by his side for 
the remainder of the distance, and arrived at our own 
door in rather crestfallen condition, though luckily night 
had set in so that our misfortunes escaped the pubb'c 
gaze. 



Digitized 



by Google 



SOMAN CATHOLIC MISSION. 



CHAPTER XII. 

Bishop Salvado's history of Australia and of the Benedictine Mission of 
New NoToia in Western Australia — Missionaries dispatched by "Pro- 
paganda" — Budesindo Salyado and Giuseppe Berra obtain leave to 
quit La Cava — Commencement of native vocabulary — Sad incident 
on reaching Perth — Formation of Missions — Captain Scully's pro- 
posal — Missionaries leave Perth and soon present travel-stained 
appearance — Disappointment in finding no water — Lengthened walk 
in search of it — Building of hut — Approach of natives — Insupport- 
able suspense — Mode of propitiating natives — Natives assist in 
completiug hut — Provisions almost consumed — Eating of grubs — 
Bishop unable to provide shoes — Musical entertainment — Help 
arrives too late — Patching clothes — Present of flour — Missionaries 
in character of surgeons — Tales by fire-light — " Jingy corobbery " — 
New views of Missionaries — Cannibalism — Infanticide — Tilling 
ground the best remedy — Scheme for founding monastery and uative 
village — Perplexity about ways and means — Remittances from 
** Propaganda" — Layiog the first stone — Pompey provides dinners 
for builders — Allotments — Wages — Habits of saving inculcated — 
Naming of heifer calf — Obstacles to success of Mission — Cordon 
sanitaire — Marriage of converts — Aristocrat^ ideas — Drinking tea 
in bush — Orphan child carried to Perth — Meeting between Father 
Salvado and little travelling companion. 

I MUgT now proceed to give some account of the Eoman 
Catholic Mission where, in the words of our shipmate, 
" the bishop lived with the natives in the bush." I am 
the better able to do so as, a year before we left the colony, 
I was fortunate enough to obtain a copy of a history of 
Australia,* written by Bishop Salvado himself, which con- 
tains, in addition to much general information, an especial 

• 'Memorie Sfcoriche deU' Australia, particolarmente della Missione 
Benedettina di Nuova Norcia/ Per Monsig. D. Budesindo Salvado, 
0. &. B., vescovo di Porto Vittoria. Roma, 1851. 

T 



Digitized 



by Google 



274 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

description of the Benedictine Mission in Western Aus- 
tralia, and of the causes of its success in dealing with a 
people to whom the credit has erroneously been given of 
turning the ^edge of all tools that were ever used in pro- 
moting its civilization. No biographies are said to be so 
perfect as those that betray the author's affection for his 
subject, and the bishop's pen runs con amore in discussing 
the topic of his beloved savages, and speaking of their 
docility and intelligence. 

The gradually decreasing numbers of the natives indi- 
cate sadly yet surely that they are not destined to share 
any exemption from that fate, which has already befallen 
so many aboriginal races, of dying out whenever the white 
man erects his dwelling amongst them. The West Aus- 
tralian, however, will not have passed from the earth's 
families without a chronicler, and the pages in which 
Bishop Salvado has enshriued his recollections of this 
simple people may be compared to the stones of a little 
cairn heaped beforghand to its memory. The book was 
originally written in Italian, and was afterwards translated 
into Spanish, which is the native language of the author ; 
and I have ventured to make the following sketch of the 
information to be derived from its most interesting ccai- 
tents. 

Twelve years had elapsed, since the foundation of the 
Swan Eiver settlement in 1829, when its Boman CathoUc 
inhabitants addressed an urgent entreaty to their bishop 
at Sydney that he would confer on them the boon of a 
minister of their own religion. At the time that the letter 
containing this request arrived at Sydney the bishop. Dr. 



Digitized 



by Google 



PARTING FBOM ENGLISH SAILORS. 275 

Folding, was absent in Eome with the object of impress- 
ing the needs of liis vast diocese upon the Holy See, and 
it wa^ not until the following year, 1843, on his return to 
Australia, that three Roman Catholic priests were dis- 
patched to Perth. Subsequently, in 1845, the congrega- 
tion of the " Propaganda " sent out a party of missionaries 
under Dr. Brady, an Irish bishop, for the purpose of con- 
verting the savages of Western Australia. 

In addition to seven priests, who accompanied Dr. Brady, 
there sailed with him also a sub-deacon who was an Eng- 
lish Benedictine, a French novice, one Italian, eight cate- 
chists, two laymen belonging to a religious order, and 
seven Irish Sisters of Mercy. Two of the priests, namely 
Rudesindo Salvado, the present episcopal resident in the 
bush, and his friend Giuseppe Serra, were Spanish Bene- 
dictine monks, who had, with some little difficulty, obtained 
permission to leave their monastery of La Cava, (situated 
in what was then called the kingdom of Naples,) in order 
to follow out the long-cherished wish of their hearts by 
becoming teachers of the heathen. 

The party sailed from London in a ship called the 
' Isabella,' and in the month of January, 1846, cast anchor 
off Fremantle in Gage's Roads. Here two landing-boats 
received the missionaries, which they had no sooner 
entered than the crew of the * IsabeUa ' shouted after them 
a hearty hip hip hurrah ; and " we," says our historian, 
'* replied in the same manner, for this hip {^ quesio hip') 
is, under such circumstances, a far more expressive and 
joyous manner of wishing good luck than the Italian 
vivar These farewells over, litanies were intoned until 
the shore was reached, when the whole party knelt upon 



Digitized 



by Google 



276 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA, 

the landing-place, and solemnly chanted Te Deum lau- 
damns. 

Whilst waiting for a boat, to take them up the river, 
the priests tried to make acquaintance with the many 
natives who were wandering about Fremantle. These 
looked hard at their unknown interlocutors, and merely 
vouchsafed the word Marannia to the foreigners' civility. 
Bethinking himself that in the Gallegon dialect a word of 
similar sound means deception, the good Salvado feared 
that even already the natives were distrustful of him, but 
on referring his doubts to his landlord, and learning from 
him that Marannia meant simply "victuals," our mis- 
sionary immediately distributed bread, and wrote do\ni 
the word in his pocket-book as the commencement of a 
vocabulary. 

The beauty of the Swan appears to have made as much 
impression on him as on ourselves, for he says, "Each 
turn of the river presented a new scene, and a fresh occa- 
sion for praising God/' but the arrival of himself and bis 
friends at Perth was saddened by the death of one of the 
priests, who had never recovered the effects of a severe 
storm in the English Channel. A few days after the 
funeral the bishop held a council for the purpose of 
devising plans for the conversion of the natives, and, the 
opinion of each priest having been asked^ it was unani- 
mously decided to follow them into the bush. Three com- 
panies were therefore formed, and named respectively the 
Missions of the North, of the South, and of the Centre of 
Western Australia. For their support the bishop requested 
grants of land from the colonial governor, who accordingly 
presented the South and Central Missions with twenty 



Digitized 



by Google 



PRIVATIONS AND DIFFICULTIES. 277 

acres each, but the Mission to the North remained unen- 
dowed, as it was beyond the limits of the Swan Kiver 
colony. 

The members of the Southern Mission were the first 
to begin their labours. Leaving Perth upon the 6th of 
February, they went on foot to Albany, where they arrived 
about the end of March, and, making that town their 
central point, traversed the bush in every direction, seek- 
ing out the savages, and suffering at the same time every 
kind of privation. Kind-hearted Protestants who saw 
their necessity brought them such relief as they could 
afford, even the sailors belonging to vessels in the port 
contributing presents of food ; but supplies of this kind 
being naturally precarious, and the health of the party 
giving way, they determined on abandoning the work in 
the South and taking refuge in the island of Mauritius, 
where a mission existed at that time under the care of an 
English Benedictine bishop. 

The Mission to the North, consisting of three persons, 
sailed for Sydney, (being obliged in those days to circum- 
navigate almost the whole continent in order to reach 
their destination,) and, having arrived at Sydney, again 
quitted it for Port Essington in another ship which was 
wrecked in Torres Straits, when all on board perished 
excepting the captain and a Tyrolese priest, who were 
rescued and brought off from a rock on which they had 
taken refuge. The poor Tyrolese died two years after- 
wards, worn out with incessant labour and by the effects 
of a climate so unhealthy as to have since caused the 
northern coasts of Australia to be almost deserted by 
Europeans. 



Digitized 



by Google 



278 SKETCHES IN WESTEBN AUSTRALIA. 

Another Mission, dependent on that of Perth, was ak) 
established at Guildford, under the care of a priest named 
Powell and a catechist ; but being both of them driven 
back into the city by hardships and privations, Mr. Powell 
withdrew from the work in Australia and joined a Mission 
in Calcutta. 

The party that had originally landed in the colony 
having been thus dispersed there now remained, out of 
the seven priests of whom it was at first composed, the two 
Spanish fathers only ; and the spot on which to begin the 
labours of the Central Mission, was yet unehosen. The 
question of fixing a site for this Central Mission was one 
requiring much consideration and anxious thought. It 
was evident that it would be wise to remove it to as great 
a distance as possible from the settled country, in order to 
avoid the evil effects of much intercourse of the lowest 
class of the white men with the natives; while, on the 
other hand, if placed at a spot too remote from Perth, 
the regular supply of provisions and necessaries would 
become impossible; not to mention the risk that the 
persons who might undertake to carry the stores would 
run of being lost in the attempt. 

At this juncture. Captain Scully, a Roman Catholic 
who had resided for many years in the colony, came to 
visit the bishop, and relieved his perplexity by telling 
him of a spot at no great distance from his. Captain 
Scully's, run, where, the land being good and ** savages 
abundant," he thought that a Mission might be success- 
fully established. He added, moreover, that if the scheme 
was approved he would himseK help to further it, by that 
most important boon in all colonial life, the gratuitous 



Digitized 



by Google 



COMMENCEMENT OF JOURNEY. 279 

carting of the necessary goods. This proposal being 
joyfully accepted the Fathers Serra and Salvado, with 
the French Benedictine noyice and an Irish catechist, 
repaired to church at sundown on the 16th of February, 
previous to commencing their night journey through the 
bush. 

They were in marching order, cruciGx on breast, staff 
in hand, and breviary under the arm, as they made their 
way to ^the altar with some difficulty through a crowd of 
persons, Protestant as well as Catholic, who had assembled 
in the little building to bid the missionaries a farewell 
which all supposed would probably be for ever. On 
leaving the church a brilliant moon shone down upon 
the travellers, who were escorted along the road for some 
distance by their bishop and other friends ; after a time 
these turned back, and the four pursued their way in 
company with the drivers of Captain Scully's wagons, one 
of which contained the property of the Mission. 

A journey on foot of sixty-eight miles, undertaken in a 
Swan Eiver summer and with long tracts of deep sand to 
b6 waded through, required five days to accomplish ; the 
first of which was sufficient to give the pedestrians an 
appearance so dusty and travel-stained that, as Father 
Salvado says, they might have been mistaken for the 
savages whom they were hoping to convert. The party 
reached Captain Scully's house in safety, and having 
remained there three days to recruit both men and oxen, 
they again went forward, in a northerly direction, under 
the guidance of his two servants. 

The heat was most intense, and during their last day's 
journey it W6is aggravated by a total absence of water 



Digitized 



by Google 



280 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA, 

upon the road, so that it was with bo slight joy that, on 
the evening of the 27th of February, they came in sight 
of the desired spot, when the whole party rushed to the 
spring which they had been led to expect there, the four 
oxen competing with the men which should reach it first. 
But it proved little better than a mud hole, and so 
nauseous as to produce vomiting ; neither did the digging 
of a ditch at the side of it at all mend matters. The 
servants wanted to go back, but the missionaries refused 
to do so as a native whom they accidentally met had pro- 
jnised to point out another spring in the morning. 

At early dawn, therefore, Father Salvado* and the good 
savage, accompanied by the novice and one of the servants, 
set out in quest of the hoped-for water : but after walking 
five miles they came upon a hole as dry as the first, at 
sight of which the guide struck the ground with a gesture 
of disappointed amazement. However, he made signs thai 
there was yet another chance if the party would go still 
farther. The novice and the servant lost heart and refused 
to proceed, but Father Salvado still followed the native, 
and at the end of another mile they had the indescribable 
joy of ♦reaching a large pond, whence, after drinking their 
fill, they hastened back with brimming pitchers to their 
companions, the native uttering loud cries of cooee, as he 
went along, to announce the news of his success. 

Towards dusk the whole party encamped beade the 
water, and on the following morning, being the fourth 
Sunday in Lent and the 1st of March, the two servants 
unloaded the cart, and returned to Captain ScuUy's after 
the celebration of mass, leaving the four missionaries in 
the heart of the bush. Next day they set to work, digging 



Digitized 



by Google 



TOKENS OF UNFRIENDLINESS. 281 

foundations and cutting wood, in preparation for the erec- 
tion of a hut of sufficient size to serve the double purpose 
of dwelling-place and chapel. In the evening a good many 
natives appeared, looking not timid but suspicious ; they 
came up to the water's edge about forty paces from the 
builders, and after lighting a large fire lay down to sleep. 
" We also," says Father Salvado, " lighted our fire when 
we could no longer see to work, and, standing round it, 
chanted compline with as much solemnity as on our days 
of festival at home, but the remembrance that we had 
such wild neighbours close around us made sleep an im- 
po^ibility." 

About two hours after sunrise the natives moved ofi^, 
and the building went on briskly, but towards evening 
they returned in greater numbers and completely armed. 
They lighted their fire a few paces nearer to the mis- 
sionaries than on the preceding evening, and the latter 
passed a night of extreme anxiety, expecting every mo- 
ment to be killed and eaten. Morning, however, brought 
a little tranquillity, for the unwelcome visitors again dis- 
appeared, and the hut made such progress that by mid- 
day, when the workmen sat down to dinner, there was 
nothing wanting but the roof. At this moment they saw 
a crowd of natives coming up, contrary to their usual 
custom of not returning till evening, each man carrying 
six or seven spears ; " we looked at them," continues my 
author, " with cheerful countenances, Grod alone knowing 
the beating of our hearts, and made signs of invitation to 
share our tea and bread," but without paying any atten- 
tion to this offered hospitality, the natives sat down beside 
the pond talking eagerly amongst themselves. 



Digitized 



by Google 



282 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

Death itself being preferable to this prolonged state of 
uncertainty the missionaries set their wits to work to 
devise a scheme for ending it one way or other, and 
eventually hit on an idea which was somewhat after 
the fashion of throwing a sop to Cerberus. They deter- 
mined upon baking three or four huge dampers, and 
carrying them boldly, with several plates piled up with 
sugar, as a peace-offering to the company beside the pond ; 
and to show that no treachery was intended the bearers of 
the feast filled their own mouths with fragments of the 
dampers, and chewed in a very demonstrative manner as 
the procession moved along. 

The natives perhaps thought it would be infra dig. to 
seem too easily mollified, for, at sight of the approaching 
collation, the men snatched up their spears and the women 
and children ran away howling dismally. However, the 
missionaries without any symptoms of fear continued to 
advance, with a great parade of eating heartily, and 
making signs that the dampers should be accepted, and 
the weapons laid aside. A few of the natives complied, 
and the Benedictines, much encouraged, offered sugar to 
some little ones who had not joined the others in running 
away, but had remained clinging tightly to their father's 
legs and crying as if finghtened out of their senses. At 
the first tfiste of the sugar the children spat it out sus- 
piciously, but on a second trial nodded approval and per- 
suaded the others to eat of it likewise. In a few seconds 
both sugar and dampers disappeared, and a general 
scramble was going on for the crumbs. The missionaries 
made holiday for the remainder of that day, being accom- 
panied back to their hut by some of the natives, in whom 



Digitized 



by Google 



NATIVES HELP TO BUILD EUT 283 

the sight of the implements of husbandry created great 
astonishment. 

The next morning so many savages crowded to see the 
Fathers at their work that they asked their visitors for a 
helping hand, which they not only willingly gave, but 
also pointed out the best materials for the roof and 
where to obtain them in the greatest plenty, by means of 
which assistance and information the whole building was 
soon covered in. At dinner-time the working party all 
sat down together, and the obliging visitors were helped 
to the largest share of what was cooked. " What might 
not then have been the success of our Mission," says Father 
Salvado, " if we had been better supplied with provisions ? 
A hundred persons, who had oflTered to remain with us and 
help us, withdrew into the woods, because we had not bread 
to give them." 

The missionaries had gained a great point, however, in 
establishing a friendly feehng between themselves and the 
natives, and they followed up their advantage by roaming 
as much as possible about the bush with them, sharing 
their occupations, and often carrying the children who 
soon affected the company of the Benedictines more than 
that of their own parents. 

Cheerfully as things seemed to be going on, however, 
difSculties were looming ahead, for, although little more 
than two months had elapsed since Father Salvado and his 
three brother missionaries had left Perth, the provisions 
which they brought with them were almost entirely con- 
sumed. The number of mouths at the Mission had also 
been increased by the arrival of the English Benedictine, 
and it was therefore judged expedient that one of the 



Digitized 



by Google 



284 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

company should repair to Pertb, to acquaint their bishop 
with their necessitous condition. Father Salvado accord- 
ingly set out upon the journey, accompanied as {jat as 
Captain Scully's house by a native : the wayfarers subeistp 
ing as they went along on such food as the bush could 
afiford; whether this consisted of opossums, or grubs, or 
lizards, which last when roasted are described as " dainty 
morsels," " I must acknowledge, for the honour of the 
truth," says the Father, "that the good savage always 
gave me the larger half." 

The grubs to which allusion is made much resemble, if 
they are not identical with, the groo groo grub of the West 
Indies, and are found in " blackboy " trees by the natives 
and other knowing persons, who pronounce the flavour to 
be almost equal to that of beef marrow. I never saw but 
one of these creatures ; it was white, of the thickne^ of a 
finger and about as long, and I fully believe Father 
Salvado's statement, that his stomach " writhed " over the 
swallowing of them. Whilst we lived in Barladong, we 
saw two or three moths which were quite as large as 
common English bats, but whether or no they were of 
the kind into which these grubs turn we had no m^ns 
of ascertaining. 

Arrived at Captain Scully's the Father was presented 
with supplies which rendered him independent of grubs 
for the remainder of his road ; nevertheless his friendly 
native here turned back lest his wife, as he said, should 
be stolen in his absence. A truer reason would perhaps 
have been that he dreaded being killed by natives to 
whom he was unknown; for as game is the only means 
of subsistence in the bush it is jealously preserved, and 



Digitized 



by Google 



WAYS AND MEANS. 285 

strangers are regarded as poachers whom it is right and 
proper to spear at once. 

On reaching Perth Father Sal vado made known the 
destitution of the Mission to his bishop, warning him that 
unless help could be speedily sent its members must all 
die of hunger. This was grievous news to Dr. Brady, who 
had no means of relieving the distress, nor even of pro- 
viding with shoes the almost barefooted messenger; he 
had in fact nothing to offer but the suggestion that the 
party should immediately return to Perth, where he pro- 
mised that at all events they should not want bread ; but 
Father Salvado replied by imploring that neither he nor 
his brothers should be compelled to yield obedience to 
such a mandate, as they had all determined, with the help 
of God, to suffer any privation rather than abandon their 
poor savagea Upon this the bishop resolved to urge the 
claims of the Mission upon his flock in a sermon, while 
Father Salvado should ask alms at the church door, which 
the latter did once or twice and thus obtained a little 
money. But the Catholics were few and their means 
limited, and he began to think that he must adopt the 
humiliating alternative of going round to beg help from 
the richer Protestants, when it suddenly occurred to him 
that he might, perhaps, be able to raise funds by giving 
a concert on the pianoforte. In this project few persons 
could be better qualifled than himself to succeed ; and it 
was no sooner known that the Governor had granted to 
him the use of the Court-house for a musical entertain- 
ment, than individuds of all sects and denominations vied 
with each other in promoting its success. 

More than one piano was placed at his disposal, — the 



Digitized 



by Google 



286 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

• 

Protestant printer engaged to issue the programmes gratis 
— the Anglican clergyman lent the church candlestickss— 
his clerk volunteered to attend to the ligTits, — a Jewish 
gentleman distributed the tickets of admission, — in &ct 
the whole story reads like a parallel to the story in 
' Evenings at Home,' written to prove the assertion that 
there are points on which all men can agree. One is re- 
minded of the Churchman lying on the pavement in a fit, 
and of the good Quaker lady holding her smelling-bottle 
to his nose, whilst a Boman Catholic runs for a doctor, 
and a Baptist takes care of the children. 

By the time that the appointed evening itrrived all 
accessories had been provided, excepting, indeed, new 
clothes for the poor performer. Some amount of mag- 
nanimity was certainly required to face a well-dressed 
audience in the plight to which he* was reduced. His 
frock himg from his knees in rags and tatters, — his black 
breeches were patched in different colours. ** My stock- 
ings," he says, " thanks to my own care, cut a tolerable 
figure ; but of my shoes, which were good when I left Italy, 
little more remained than the upper leathers." Add to 
this, that his hands and face were tanned to the colour 
of a native ; but his " more than three months' beard," 
which was then supposed to aid in the general disfigure- 
ment, would now excite no observation, beards being not 
only of almost universal adoption, but speciaUy worn by 
the Benedictine monks of New Norcia since they found 
that the natives respected them the more for not shaving. 
** In fact," he says, " my appearance excited both laughter 
and compassion." Neither could the applause which ac- 
companied his endeavours to please the audience banish, 



Digitized 



by Google 



PATCHING CLOTHES. 287 

as he says, fix>m his mind's eye " the picture of my four 
poor brothers, dying of hunger in the bush." 

With the proceeds of the concert he was enabled not 
only to purchase provisions of all kinds, but also a yoke 
of oxen for ploughing — a grand safeguard against future 
want. The help, however, arrived too late for all to share 
in it. Before he could reach the Mission the poor young 
catechist was dead, and the mind of the French novice 
was so much shaken that it was judged best to send him 
bcick to Perth under the escort of a kind-hearted French- 
man who had accompanied Father Salvado on his return 
journey to lend his assistance in the toil of clearing the 
land. The two monks were thus left to carry on the 
work as best they could, which proved such a sore task 
(in every sense of the word) to barefooted men, that they 
now contrived for themselves wooden shoes covered with 
fur. They also patched their ragged monastic habits with 
the same material, and supplied lost buttons by strings 
made of the sinews of the kangaroo. 

The wheat began to sprout in September, but the old 
saying held good, that ** while the grass grows the steed 
starves ** ; and for twenty-nine days in October the Fathers 
never tasted bread. This state of want was relieved by the 
arrival of two natives with a present of fourteen pounds 
of flour, sent by a poor Irish servant at Captain Scully's 
whom the natives had acquainted with the poverty at the 
Mission, and whose name of "Elinor" is gratefully re- 
corded by Father Salvado. To the two good fellows who 
carried her gift thanks were also due, but in a less degree, 
as whenever the missionaries had hieoA they always shared 
it freely with the natives. 



Digitized 



by Google 



288 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA 

In addition to field labour, and the acquisition of the 
native language, which, says Father Salyado, " we w»e 
learning with all our might," he and his colleague were 
endeayouring, with no less energy, to obtain an insight 
into the laws, customs, and superstitions of the savages, 
hoping to be thus able to suppress their frequent fights. 
When this task was impossible, the Benedictine hut be- 
came a hospital to which the wounded were carried ; and 
though Father Salvado says of himself and his brother 
Serra that the one knew as much of doctoring as the 
other — ^'^ which was nothing" — ^yet the cures which the 
two brought about, notwithstanding this 'want of know- 
ledge, were the means of gaining for the amateur surgeons 
a degree of affectionate confidence from the patients which 
probably could have been secured by no other circum- 
stance. 

The happiest moment for conveying instruction to these 
wild children of nature was at night, when a ring of 
listeners sat round the fire, and story-telling followed the 
evening meaL At such times Father Salvado would be 
often called upon to contribute his share to the entertain- 
ment, and would be interrogated concerning the customs 
of his country, the names of his parents (his mother 
especially), those of his brothers, and what were his reasons 
for having quitted his relations. A description of European 
customs never failed to elicit loud and hearty peals of 
laughter; but when he proceeded to relate the motives 
which had induced him to leave his home and kindred the 
audience listened with eyes fixed and breath suspended. 
" I did my best," he adds, " to take advantage of th^e 
moments that I might gain them for the Lord's service, 



Digitized 



by Google 



• "JINGY COROBBERYr 289 

and I often perceived that greater benefit accrued from 
this mode of instruction than could have been produced by 
the most eloquent sermons." 

On the point, however, of their secret superstitions, the 
natives maintained a reserve which he found almost im- 
penetrable. Questions addressed on these subjects to the 
older men were turned off with a joke, or with a feint of not 
understanding their meaning,' and natives of some thirty 
years of age would parry the inquiry by saying that they 
were too young to give an account of such matters. This 
experience of Father Salvado concerning the unwillingness 
of the natives to speak of their own superstitious beliefs 
might possibly explain an incident which caused us some 
perplexity. Two or three natives, at different times, gave us 
obscure scraps of information relative to a yearly feast held 
in honour of the evil spirit, and called on that account the 
" Jingy corobbery," but, with the exception of one colonist 
who was familiar with it, none of the white persons to 
whom we mentioned the feast would believe that it had 
any existence. They had lived in the colony all their 
lives, they said, and in constant intercourse with the 
natives, yet had heard of no such " corobbery," and, not 
unnaturally, they considered that our native friends had im- 
posed upon us. We thought, however, that their descrip- 
tion of the "Jingy" feast bore so much resemblance to 
what we had read of aboriginal customs on the eastern side 
of Australia that, though we did not attempt to set up 
our own short experience against that of older residents, 
we saw no reason for renouncing our private opinion that 
the ** Jingy corobbery " was a fact. But to return to the 
thread of my narrative. 

u 



Digitized 



by Google 



290 SKETCHES IN^ WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

Whilst the two monks were thus diligently studying the 
language and customs of the natives their own opinions 
as to the best means of converting savages to Christianity 
were rapidly undergoing a changa Hitherto the mission- 
aries had supposed that this object could be attained only 
by their following the tribe in all its wanderings, but their 
increasing experience now showed them that they had 
been mistaken, and that nomadic habits on the part of the 
teajchers were not calculated to reclaim a race of nomada 
"Nothing so easy," says Father Salvado, "as to preach a 
sermon to a savage ; but if in the middle of it he asks for 
something to eat, he will, unless the preacher is able to 
supply the want, cut short the discourse altogether by 
going off to look for food in the bush,** 

The eagerness also with which the natives would work in 
return for bread added not a little to the poignancy with 
which the missionaries viewed their deficient means. One 
thing was also certain, that no religious teaching which 
was not combined with instruction in agriculture could be 
of use in a country so naturally destitute of food for man s 
use that, if a native cannot find game, contingencies may, 
and do, occur as horrible as any which are furnished by 
our most dismal annals of shipwreck. 

A native named Billiagoro, with whom Father Salvado, 
became intimate, told him of four families having once 
been reduced by sheer famine to kill and eat a child, the 
narrator himself having taken part in the revolting meaL 
There had been six successive days of heavy rain, accom- 
panied by imusual cold, and all attempts to procure food 
during that time had proved unsuccessful. The victim 
was Billiagoro's own sister, " and had I been older, I would 



Digitized 



by Google 



INFANTICIDE. 291 

have defended her" he said, ** but then the lot would have 
only been shifted to some other yet more unprotected 
child, for we were all dying of hunger, and eat we must." 

The practice also, which Father Salvado found in vogue 
in native families, of killing the third daughter at her 
birth had its origin, no doubt, in the scarcity of the means 
of subsistence, since in no other m&nner can such cruelty 
be accounted for, amongst a people so fond of their 
children as the West Australian natives. Neither had 
custom entirely robbed the deed of its horrors, although 
the murder was always perpetrated by the mother herself. 
So strangely did philanthropy and barbarity run hand in 
hand that, if other women were present at the birth, it 
not unfrequently happened that one of them, rather than 
consent to the infanticide, would herself adopt the chUd 
and bring it up ; and Father Salvado says that he was 
personally acquainted with more than one of these good 
foster-mothers and the nurslings whose lives they had 
saved. 

The monks judged that the first remedy to be applied 
to the evils of murder and cannibalism was the tilling of 
the ground, and they accordingly waited on their bishop, 
imploring him to build and found a. monastery, around 
which might be gathered a native population which the 
Fathers would undertake to instruct personally in field 
labour. " The object that we had at heart," continues our 
author, ** was the establishing of a village of native pro- 
prietors, who should be husbandmen and artisans as well 
as real Christians." 

This was a scheme to which it was easier to obtain the 
bishop's consent than to discover how the necessary funds 



Digitized 



by Google 



292 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTBALIA. 

for carrying it out could be provided. Even the sugges- 
tion that one of the party should repair to Europe, on a 
begging expedition, was impracticable for want of money 
to pay his passage thither, and Father Salvado could 
devise no other means of surmounting the diflSculty than 
that of proposing to open a music school in Perth, fraught 
with the bold condition that all who enrolled themsehes 
as his scholars must pay him a year's teaching in advance. 

Offers of pupils flowed in notwithstanding such an un- 
usual form of advertisement, but the project of the music 
school was rendered nnnecessary by the opportune arrival 
of a remittance to the bishop from the "Propaganda,*' with 
a promise of future help. A large part of this timely suc- 
cour, namely five thousand francs, was devoted to the 
establishment of the monastery, and, all difficulties being 
now removed, the foundation stone, with a medal of St 
Benedict beneath it, was laid upon the 1st of March, 1847, 
the Mission thenceforward receiving the name of New 
Norcia in honour of the " patriarch's " birth-place. The 
chapel was dedicated to the Holy Trinity. 

No money was expended on masons' or carpenters' 
wages, the builders being all volunteera from Perth, who 
were kept well supplied with meat by a kangaroo dog 
under the charge of a native whilst the work lasted. 
Pompey lived to see the day, though with only one eye 
left him, when the Benedictines owned a flock of sheep, 
and needed not his services in hunting down kangaroo 
for their guests. He did not seem to take in good part 
this complete deposition from office, and sometimes asserted 
himself by killing a sheep, which the monks, on issuing 
from iheii monastery at early dawn to labour in the fields, 



Digitized 



by Google 



NATIVES LEABN TO SAVE MONET. 293 

would find, to their chagrin, laid outside the door by him 
in orderly fashion and untouched. 

The Governor's original grant o£ twenty acres being in- 
sufiScient to support the number of savages who had already 
joined the Benedictines, the monks petitioned for thirty 
acres in addition, which were not only granted in freehold, 
but they were also allowed the use of a run of one thousand 
acres for pasturing their sheep and herds. In the winter 
immediately following this concession Father Salvado par- 
celled out allotments and gave seed-corn to those natives 
who had helped him in the previous harvest, and it was not 
a little pleasant to see the eagerness with which the boon 
was accepted, the ground cultivated, and bird-scaring 
carried on by the same men who, but a year before, had 
laughed at him as mad for throwing corn into the ground. 

Observing that they were not only delighted to possess 
something of their own, but that, like other human beings, 
they worked in proportion to the recompense which they 
received, his next step was to make them a payment in 
money for all piece-work done for the monastery. This 
did no good at first as they either lost their money or ga\;(B 
it away ; he therefore explained to them that by saving 
it up they would be able, in course of time, to send to 
Perth for new clothes, or to purchase a pig, a cow, or even 
a horse. The residt was that the native labourers were 
content at the end of each week to leave their pay in his 
hands, when the money was placed in a chest fitted with 
divisions, and the name of each depositor written over the 
special compartment that belonged to him. 

It was a great delight to each workman, when Saturday 
came, to turn the money over in his hands speculating on 



Digitized 



by Google 



294 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

what lie woiild buy, before dropping it into the chest ; nor 
did the benefit stop here, for, if a native idled over his work, 
the reminding him of pay-day was quite enough to rouse 
him to exertion. The adage too seemed verified of " things 
mending when they come to their worst," for Billiagoro 
of cannibal experience was the first native at the Mission 
who commenced cattle-keeping on his own account, having 
became possessor of a heifer calf which, by the way, he 
named after himself. 

On no point does Father Salvado insist so strenuously 
as on the folly of saying that the Australian native cannot 
appreciate the value of money or property : " he 'acquires 
a just idea of both in a short time, and diligently studies, 
thenceforth, how he may better his condition ; but if he is 
only made to feel the burdens of civilization without its 
advantages, (the wages paid him being so insignificant as 
to disgust him with labour,) he prefers the freedom of a 
wild life, and returns to the bush." 

Father Salvado also quotes from a report of a commis- 
sion which sat at Sydney in consequence of Lord Stanley's 
desire that a plan should be devised for ameliorating the 
condition of the aborigines ; on that occasion a missionary 
who had been asked for a suggestion replied that he knew 
not how to make one, so many schemes having already 
been tried without success :• although the question " had 
the natives ever been paid in money for their work ? '* had 
received an answer in the negative. ** It, would therefore 
appear,'* says the Father, " that though no fresh system 
could be proposed, there had not, as yet, been any trial 
made of what might be effected with the natives by the 
motive of self-interest." 



Digitized 



byGoogk 



INTERMARRIAGE OF CONVERTS. 295 

And now having brought the Spanish missionaries to 
that point when they could *'eat the labour of their 
hands,*' I must close a sketch which might have been 
embellished by other extracts, aud additional anecdotes, 
had I not feared to violate the rights of authors and the 
laws of courtesy. I have simply tried to give the salient 
points of the narrative, especially those which relate to 
the natural disposition of the natives and their capacity 
for improvement 

The chief obstacles to success at New Norcia have arisen, 
as may easily be imagined, at the first, from the character 
of many of the shepherds and servants of the settlers in 
the earlier time of the Mission, and latterly, from the 
conversion of the colony into a penal settlement. The 
Fathers have found themselves compelled to maintain an 
isolated position by extending their purchases of land, and 
thus drawing, so to speak, a cordon sanitaire around their 
converts. Even if Western Australia had never been 
made a penal colony, the success of the Mission would 
probably have owed much to such restrictions on its ad- 
mixture with white society. Children and young plants 
thrive best in nurseries, and I do not believe that under 
any circumstances a wild race can be educated with justice 
to itself on the open ground of civilization. The inter- 
marriage of the converts, and the settling of the young 
couples upon a tract belonging to the monastery, has been 
one most important result of the position which the Bene- 
dictines occupy as members of a large landed institution. 

So many marriages between girls just past childhood 
and men of middle age take place among the wild natives, 
that the better assorted matches of New Norcia are not 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



296 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA 

lost upon the aboriginal female mind ; and I fomid that 
the chance of a young native husband was regarded by 
the native girls as forming a special contingent advantage 
of being brought up at " the Mission." Moreover, in the 
process of rescuing a race from utter barbarism a species 
of feudalism, which will provide protectors and instructors, 
seems an indispensable ingredient, and, if the reclaimed 
native is to stick to industrious habits, and to live on his 
own allotment, it must be by his remaining beneath the 
protecting eyes of those who have lifted him from his 
original position, and whose benevolent supervision alone 
will prevent his sinking back to it. 

There is no doubt also that the fact of the Benedictines 
being fellow-workers with the natives not only as their 
instructors but as their personcd companions, and, as I n^y 
say, brother journeymen in all useful arts and occupations, 
such as shoe-making, building, harvesting, and shepherding, 
has much helped in persuading traditional hunters to 
adopt the life of orderly peasants : for it must be remem- 
bered that the natives were the lords of their own country 
until the arrival of its English masters, and that though 
they have now lost their heritage of land they still retain 
that of pride : no eye so quick as theirs to recognize 
the deference that is paid by white people to all those 
whose circumstances exempt them from the necessity of 
manual labour, and the native, not unnaturally, thinfa 
that the less work he does the more he resembles a gentle- 
man. 

Even with regard to a knowledge of the native language, 
I was assured that to speak it badly gained more respect 
for oneself from the natives than to speak it weU, as the 



Digitized 



by Google 



NATIVE VILLAGE. 297 

latter fact implied a long residence in the colony involving 
much experience of rough living and hard work, and, as 
they suppose, giving proof of a want of wealth and per- 
sonal position, — crude ideas of which a counterpart may 
be often seen amongst so-called ^ civilized persons, and 
which justify the correctness of the Benedictines' plan of 
keeping their pupils, as much as possible, within the re- 
cesses of the bush. 

The Mission of New Norcia, from a beginning so small 
and beset with so much hardship, has now assumed the 
character of one of the most flourishing settlements in the 
colony of Western Australia, and is respected for its success, 
even by those who are least friendly to its religion. The 
village of native Christians which the monks hoped to 
establish, has now really sprung into existence, and the cap- 
tain of the ship in which we returned to England, in 1869, 
told us that of the wool which composed hh cargo none 
was better packed- than that which came from New Norcia, 
which had been cleaned and put into bales by native 
hands. 

According to the census for the year 1870 the native 
population of New Norcia consisted of eighteen male and 
sixteen female adults, many of whom are married and es- 
tablished in their own homes ; and (of children) sixteen 
boys and ten girls under instruction at the Mission. 

There is yet one story that I must tell, as it is too good 
to pass, of how Father Salvado drank tea in the bush with 
Billiagoro on occasion of their going out together to look 
for a new sheep-run. On the evening of a terribly hot 
day master and man, before camping for the night, started 
in diflerent directions in search of water for the teapot. 



Digitized 



by Google 



298 SKETCHES IN WESTERN A USTBALIA. 

and the master returning quite baffled, describes himself 
as much cheered by the perfume of a sandalwood fire 
announcing from a distance that the tea is in progress, 
which he not only finds to be the case on nearer approach, 
but that his servitor is already rolling out a damper. 

" Bravo, good fellow; where did you find the water?" 
but Billiagoro says never a word, and continues to bake 
his cake in silence. Just before lying down to sleep, 
Father Salvado reminds him that he had better go back 
to the well and bring water enough for breakfEkst, so as to 
save time in the morning. "The well!" said Billiagoro, 
now ready enough to speak ; ** there is not a drop left in 
it." "No water left in it?" repUed Father Salvado; 
"what can you mean?" "Not a single drop," said 
Billiagoro ; " all I could find was in a "hole in a stone, and 
I had to suck up what there was of it by a monthful at 
a time to fill the pannikin." "My good fellow!" expos- 
tulated the master; "why not tell me so before?" 
" Where would have been the good of my doing that?" 
was the servant's answer; "you would have drunk 
nothing then ; now you have had your tea, and eaten the 
damper." 

In the same manner as Dogberry follows his "sixth 
and lastly," with " to conclude," I add another story of 
a different kind, referring to an experience of too much 
water rather than the want of it. A poor little native 
orphan of six years old having taken refuge in a half- 
starved condition at the monastery, the monks decided 
on handing her over to the care of the nuns at Perth, and 
with this view Father Salvado set out to convey her 
thither in the ox wagon. The winter of 1847 being ex- 



Digitized 



by Google 



GRATITUDE OF NATIVE CHILD. 299 

traordiaarily wet the rivers were in an unusual state of 
flood, and in crossing the Avon the strength of the current 
overturned the wagon, Father Salvado saving himself and 
the child by swimming. On looking back he saw that the 
oxen were drowning in consequence of their harness being 
entangled in the branches of a tree ; he therefore swam 
to it, and with much trouble set the poor things at liberty. 
They forthwith, excusing themselves from continuing the 
journey, got out of the river onlhe side that was nearest 
home, whilst the Father proceeded to Perth on foot, 
carrying the child on his shoulders through two days' 
march* Some months afterwards Father Salvado, being 
f^in at Perth and sitting in the sacristy preparing for 
mass, at which he was to officiate, found himself suddenly 
seized round the neck by his little travelling companion, 
who, laying her head on his breast, burst into a fit of 
weeping. As she continued to shed {ears for more than 
five minutes without once raising her head or •speaking 
a word, *'I asked her," he says, "with some anxiety, 
whether she was unhappy with the good sisters, or dis- 
liked her new mode of life, and each of my questions 
being answered with the assurance that she was quite 
•contented, 'Then what are you crying for?' I said; *is 
there anything that you wish me to do for you?' * No- 
thing else,' she answered, * but to let me stay with you 
for a few minutes.' All those," he continues, " who were 
present at this meeting between myself and the poor little 
girl were aflect^d to tears by the sight of her afiectionate 
behaviour, and I thought myself well repaid for the two 
days that I had carried her on my shoulders." 



Digitized 



by Google 



300 SKETCHED IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 



CHAPTEB XIII. 

Names upon shore-line of West Australia in three different languages — 
Legend of Great Java — Spanish admiral invents name of Aastralia — 
Pioneers of West Australia exclusively Dutch — Disooveiy of Swba 
Eiver — Finding of inscription on Dirk Hartog*s Island — Dampici'i 
shark — M. de Bougainville — Reasons of Admiral D'Entrecasteani^s 
voyage being undertaken -^ Captain Baudin's ideas about names— 
Tale invented by oolonial John Bull — Naturalists lose their way — 
Captain Baudin's inhumanity — Pewter plate carried to Paris — Captain 
Stirling sails to Swan Biver — His favourable reports of it — Cockbom 
Sound — Garden Island — Plans for colonization — No convicts to be 
admitted — Large grants of land — Deplorable condition of first im- 
migrants — Scurvy — Early cutting of cabbages — Governor Stirling's 
activity — Unsuitability of goojls and furniture — Travelling carriages 
turned to good account — Deal packing-cases found useful — Harp 
re-sbipped — Tents blow loose in windy weather — Boys fasten ropes 
— Vessel on sand-bank — Boat capsized — Merits of twins not recog- 
nized by Colonial Government — Australind projected — Repetition of 
disappointment — Western Australia acquires a bad name — Dis- 
covery of mineral districts. , 

Anyone who looks at a map of Western Australia cannot 
fail to obserye that the names upon its shore-line belong 
to three different languages. French, Dutch, and English 
names occur amongst the appellations of its capes, bays,' 
and headlands, and, like the bricks in the chimney built 
by Jack Cade's father, " testify " to the nationality of the 
adventurous seamen who at distant intervals surveyed the 
coast. There seems, however, to be a probability that 
the existence of Australia was first surmised by the Portu- 
guese, who established colonies in India and the Spice 
Islands at a very early period, and a story goes that one 
John Eotz, of the Portuguese service, dedicated a hydro- 



Digitized 



by Google 



DUTCH DISCOVERIES. 301 

graphic map to the king of England in 1542, wherein 
a portion of the austral continent was delineated under 
the name of Great Java. Whatever foundation there 
may be for this anecdote, it is nevertheless certain that 
Australia virtually remained an unknown and mysterious 
territory until the beginning of the seventeenth century, 
when Dutch and Spaniards began to press hard on each 
other's heels in the task of unveiling it, and the latter not 
only carried off the chief honours of discovery, but also 
published the earliest accounts of the " great south land " 
which can be considered authentic. 

The name itself of Australia^ which Flinders suggested 
should be applied collectively to the whole of the con- 
tinent, was first invented by the Spanish admiral Quirds 
as the designation of that part of it which he discovered 
in the year 1608. The earliest pioneers of Western 
Australia, however, seem to have been exclusively Dutch, 
for its entire seaboard is in old maps parcelled out into 
separate "lands," each of which bears the name of a 
Dutchman or of his ship. Tasman's Land, De Witt's 
Land, Endracht*^ Land, Edel's Land, the Land of Lyons (or 
Leeuwin), and Nuyt's Land encircled what is now called 
Western Australia in a connected chain from its northern 
boundary to its extreme south-east limit, each link having 
had a geographical existence before the middle of the 
seventeenth century whilst as yet people made voyages 
of discovery without chronometers, and in vessels that 
were . sometimes not many sizes bigger than a modern 
coastguard cutter. 

The river Swan became known to Europeans under the 
auspices of a Dutch commander, named William Vlaming, 



Digitized 



by Google 



302 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

who, when cruising oflf Edel's Land, discovered, upon the 3rd 
of January 1697, the mouth of a stream much frequented 
by black swans, and an adjacent island that swarmed with 
kangaroo rats. Vlaming bestowed upon the island the 
appropriate name of Rottnest, or the "rat's nest," and 
christened the stream the Black Swan River, but the river 
has long since moulted the first portion of the adjective, 
and the birds that once haunted its waters have also much 
withdrawn themselves from observation. 

Proceeding northwards, and coasting along Endracht's 
Lsmd, Ylaming landed upon an island called after Dirk 
Hartog, at the entrance of Shark's Bay, and had the 
good hap to find a written memorial which Dirk Hartog 
liimself had left there eighty-one years previously. A 
pewter plate nailed to a tree bore an inscription to the 
effect that the ship * Endracht,' of Amsterdam, had arrived 
at that island on the 25th of October, 1616: Captain 
Dirk Hartog : and that she had sailed two days afterwards 
for Bantam. Vlaming replaced the pewter document 
after appending a second inscription, recording his own 
arrival at that spot in the ship ' Geelvint,' on the 4th of 
February, 1697, and he is also said to have deposited 
similar memorials of his progress along the coast at 
different places on the mainland ; but unlbrtunately none 
of them have ever yet come to light. 

By the early part of the eighteenth century Dutch 
curiosity seems to have been lulled concerning New 
Holland, (as the States-General had decreed in 1665 that 
their discoveries in Australia should be henceforth collec- 
tively called,) or satisfied that it offered little to reward 
further investigation. No Dutch settlement crowned the 



Digitized 



by Google 



SHARK'S BAT, 303 

patient labonr which the maritime sons of Holland had 
spent in exploring the Australian coast, nor do they ever 
seem to have reaped any advantage from the discovery 
of it. A few mutineers were set ashore in the year 1629, 
by one Francis Pelsart, in what would be now called the 
district of Champion Bay, but nothing was ever known of 
their subsequent fate. 

The time was approaching for the introduction of 
French and English names on the coast-line of West 
Australia, and as far as I can ascertain the first English 
name that ever appeared there was that of Dampier, 
the wlulom buccaneer, who was deputied by the British 
Grovemment to conduct a voyage of discovery to the 
South Seas in the reign of William III., and who gave 
his own name to a cluster of little islands, called Dam** 
pier's Archipelago, that stud the coast near the sheep- 
farming settlement of Nichol Bay. 

Shark's Bay, which lies considerably to the south of 
Dampier's Archipelago, does not appear to have received 
its descriptive name without good reason. In this bay 
Dampier makes mention of having caught a shark that 
measured eleven feet in length "with a maw like a leather 
sack, very thick, and so tough that a sharp knife could 
scarce cut it." Nor was the sack empty, and its contents, 
if Dampier was not mistaken in them, proved that the 
shark hailed from a distant port, and had wisely taken 
plenty of victuals on board before commencing a long 
voyage. The provender consisted of **the head and bones 
of a hippopotamus, the hairy lips of which were still 
sound," — " the jaw was also firm, out of which we plucked 
a great many teeth, two pf them eight inches long, and 



Digitized 



by Google 



304 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA, 

as big as a man's thumb." Dampier's roaming life must 
have famished him with opportmiity, one would think, 
of knovring a hippopotamus when he saw one, but it ia 
difficult to imagine that he judged correctly in this in- 
stance, as the hippopotamus is nowhere to be found 
on the scantily-watered continent of Australia, ^^t it 
must not be supposed that the marine productions of 
Shark's Bay are confined to the hideous fish from which 
it takes its name, conehologists being indebted to it 
for very beautiful shells which are gathered on the 
beach. 

No Frenchman came to reconnoitre West Australia until 
the early part of George the Third's reign, when there 
appeared one of great note, no lesa a personage than 
M. de Bougainville, who bad rendered important assistance 
to the Marquis de Montcalm in defending Canada against 
the English, and whose intention to have supplied the 
garrison of Quebec with provisions, on the night that Wolfe 
ascended the. heights of Abraham, ran within a hair's 
breadth of frustrating that exploit, and had nearly deprived 
England of one of her brightest historical pages. M. de 
Bougainville subsequently exchanged a soldier's life for a 
sailor's, and signalized himself as the first Frenchman who 
ever made a voyage roimd the world. Cape Bougainville 
and Cape Voltaire are two long narrow-necked promon- 
tories on either side of Admiralty Gulf in the north of 
West Australia — a part which at present is only resorted 
to by pearl-fishers. 

The next visit that Western Australia received from 
the French was remarkable on two accounts, being due 
not only to one of the last acts which the unfortunate 



Digitized 



by Google 



FRENCH EXPEDITION. 305 

Louis the Sixteenth exercised as a sovereign, but also to 
the unusual circumstance of a resolution passed by the 
National Assembly with a humane purpose for its object 
The painful uncertainty which had been felt in France 
concerning the fate of M. de la Perouse and his ships 
*La Boussole' and * L' Astrolabe,' induced the National 
Assembly to request that the king should order his 
ministers and consuls, residing in diflferent countries, to set 
on foot all possible inquiries with a view of ascertaining 
whether that commander, or any of his men, might yet be 
living, as shipwrecked mariners, on some distant island of 
the South Seas. It was also suggested that the king 
should offer suitable rewards to all navigators, of any nation 
whatsoever, who should procure tidings of the fate of 
M. de la Perouse, and that two French ships should be 
fitted out with the double purpose of searching for the 
missing crews, and of extending scientific and geographical 
knowledge. Accordingly the frigates *La Eecherche' 
and * L'Esperance ' were equipped at Brest, and the 
Admiral D'Entrecasteaux received the command of the 
expedition which, in the words of the poor king,* "^e- 
sentait ime occasion de perfectionner la description du fflobe, 
d d*accroUre les cormaissances htmiaines" 

The admiral failed in bringing to light the fate of 
M. de la Perouse, but his geographical surveyor, M. Beau- 
tems Beaupre, made such an accurate chart of Western 
Australia from Cape Leeuwin as far as 132° east of Green- 
wich, that Flinders, in speaking of it, says that the ad- 
vantages to geography from his own subsequent survey of 

♦ ' Voyage de D'Entrecasteaux envoy^ k la Recherche de la PerouBe.* 
R^dig€ par M. de BoBsel. Paris, 1808. 

X 



Digitized 



by Google 



806 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

that portion of the coasts " would consist, not in correcting 
what M. Beautems fieauprS had laid down, but in confirm- 
ing and adding to the information before obtained." 

The south-west headland of Western Australia, and a 
bay in the south of the colony, are respectively called 
Esperance Bay and Point D'Entrecasteaux ; King Greorge's 
Sounci, which lies between the two, had been discovered by 
Vancouver about a year before the French admiral's visit. 

Bishop Salvado supposes that Admiral D'Entrecasteaux 
had perhaps intended to have secured this part of Aus- 
tralia as a French possession ; but, however that may have 
been, he did not live to carry back any account of it, and 
the expedition which he conducted may itself be said to 
have made no return voyage. The news of the massacre 
of Louis the Sixteenth and of the overturn of the French 
monarchy reached the crews of *La Recherche* and 
* L' Esperance ' at a Dutch settlement in Java, subsequently 
to the death of their admird, whereupon officers and men 
divided themselves into republican and royalist parties, 
the frigates were dismantled, and the voyage was declared 
to be at an end.* 

The French still continued, however, to buzz like bees 
about the shore-line of West Australia, and a perfect 
shower of Gallic appellations fell upon it during the voy- 

♦ M. de EoBsel, the officer who succeeded to the command of the expe- 
dition after the death of Admiral D'Entrecasteaux, endeavoured to reach 
Europe in a Dutch East Indiaman, which was captured on the north of 
Scotland by an English frigate. Lord Spencer offered M. de Boesel 
employment in the Hydrographical Department of the Admiralty, where 
he continued until the passing of the decree which aUowed the return of 
emigrants to France. On leaving England, M. de Boasel was permitted 
to carry with him copies of all the journals, charts, and observations 
which he had had in his possession when taken prisoner. 



Digitized 



by Google 



CAPTAIN BA UDIN. 307 

ages of two corvettes, * Le Qeographe * and * Le Naturaliste/ 
which sailed from France in 1800 under command of 
Captain Bandin. A previons application had been made 
to 3Ir. Pitt for the necessary passports,* **pour mettre le 
Capitaine Baudin a Tabri de totUs oMaque hostile^ et lui 
procurer tme reception favorable dans les etahlissemens 
BrUanniques ou Upou/rra etre oblige de rdacher momentane- 
ment," for in those days of war between France and England 
peaceful navigators of either country required letters of 
safe-conduct to protect them from hard usage in case of 
meeting their angry neighbours on the high seas, and to 
enable them to take refuge in each other's ports without 
risk of imprisonment. 

The avowed object of Captain Baudin's expedition, when 
applying for the passports, was " to sail round the world 
for the furtherance of scientific research " ; but he ended 
by merely circumnavigating Australia, and there can be 
no doubt that the real purpose of the voyage was that of 
espionnage alone. 

The prior discoveries of Flinders were appropriated by 
Captain Baudin without any scruple, and the two gulfs in 
South Australia, which had been named by the former 
Spencer and St. Vincent, were paraded in charts (published 
in Paris as the fruits of French enterprise) under the 
names of Grolfe Bonaparte and Gk)lfe Josephine. In fact 
the French captain seems to have been under the impres- 
sion that a navigator's first duty lay in the invention of 
a fresh set of names for other people's discoveries, and, 
amongst a host of similar performances, the name of North 
West Cape, otherwise Vlaming Head, in West Australia, was 
* * Voyage de D^oouTerfces aox Terres Australes.' Paris, 1805. 



Digitized 



by Google 



808 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

altered to that of Cape Murat, as a change for Uie better. 
However, as might hare been expected, the new names 
soon fell away from the old localities, though wherever the 
coast of Swan Biver had not^been previoosly explored it 
retains Captain Bandin's nomenclature to this day. 

The bay on which the little town of Busselton is situated 
and its promontory are still called G^graphe Bay and 
Cape Naturaliste, whilst Port Leschenault, near Bunbuiy, 
and Cape Peron, south of Perth, perpetuate the mem(»y of 
two savcms who accompanied the expedition. Cape Hamelin 
enshrines the name of the commander of the ^ Naturaliste,' 
whose observation that the pearl-oyster flourishes on part 
of the West Australian coast in great quantities is now 
confirmed by the daily experience of many who make a 
livelihood in fishing for it. 

Captain H$anelin also made an examination of the river 
of Black Swans, and was, perhaps, the mythical Frenchman 
of whom the settlers were fond of repeating a story that he 
had anchored at night, and had sailed away before day- 
break in a panic caused by the croaking of the firogs in an 
adjacent swamp. The colonial John Bull was evidently at 
a loss for a laugh against his old enemy when he invented 
this canard^ for otherwise he would surely have represented 
the French commander as having been cheered beyond 
measure by sounds which conveyed to himself and his crew 
an abundant promise of their favourite food. 

M. P^on relates in his journal that he and two broths 
naturalists lost their way on one occasion when they landed 
for the purpose of searching for curiosities, and his descrip- 
tion of what they endured &om heat and thirst> and fixmi 
the scorching sand, will be appreciated by all who are 



Digitized 



by Google 



WEAB Y MARCH. 809 

acquainted with West Australia, and with the narratiyes of 
those who have been similarly situated. The sight of some 
natiyes at a distance, of whom M. Peron and his Iriends 
wished to obtain a nearer yiew, had induced them to stray 
farther than they were at first aware of, and when they 
had succeeded with much difficulty in finding their way 
back to the sea, they perceiyed that their wanderings had 
placed a weary stretch of shore between themselyes and 
their boat. 

In order to make smre of not missing the way a second 
time the party determined to follow the windings of the 
beach, along which they toiled, laden with plants and 
shells, sometimes wading through the sea to ayoid the 
reflected glare of the sun upon the white sand, and obliged 
at last to abandon a great part of the precious freight 
which they had procured at the expense of so much toil 
and danger, from sheer inability to carry the burden any 
farther. 

By the time that the naturalists reached the boat, the 
sailors in charge of it had consumed the small supply of 
food and fresh water that they had brought with them, 
and the night was too much adyanced to admit of an im- 
mediate, return to the ship. On the morrow a thick fog 
increased the delay, none of the party, strange to say, 
being provided with a compass; and the poor curiosity- 
hunters had endured a fast of forty-four hours when they 
once again stepped on board ^ Le Geographe,' in a state 
more dead than aliye. M. Peron adds that Captain 
Baudin not only inexorably fined the officer of the boat in 
ten francs for each of the three guns fired the preceding 
evening as a signal for him to return, but also upbraided 



Digitized 



by Google 



310 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

him for not having left the three unfortunate wvom to 
their fate. 

Before finally quitting Western Australia Captain 
Baudin touched at Dirk Hartog's Island, and found the 
ancient log half buried in the sand with the two inscriptions 
still legible, in spite of the hundred and eighty-six years 
which had passed since the writing of the firsts and the 
hundred and five since the additioh of the second. Perhaps 
the French captain thought that the non-destructive cha- 
racter of the climate had been sufficiently tested, for he 
bore away the interesting relic, and it is said to be now 
preserved at Paris. The northern point of Dirk Hartog's 
Island is still called Cape Inscription, though the object is 
removed that conferred the name upon it. 

Between the years 1818 and 1822 Captain King exa- 
mined the northern coast of Australia, accompanied by 
the naturalist Mr. Cunningham, both of whose names are 
preserved in West Australia in King Bound and Cunning- 
ham Point. 

Bishop Salvado describes Captain King's survey as 
'' a model of patience and precision," but he did not pro- 
ceed southward, or make any investigation of Swan River 
proper, imagining that the French had already exhausted 
that subject. Many people, on the contrary, were of opinion 
that the French had performed their work in so slovenly 
a manner as to have added little or nothing to what the 
world had already known concerning Western Austrah'a, 
and that a painstaking and laborious expedition might yet 
bring to light much useful information. 

It so happened that Captain, afterwards Sir James 
StirUng, whilst in command of the ' Success ' frigate, was 



Digitized 



by Google 



CAPTAIN' STIRLING. 311 

ordered to New South Wales on a particnlar service, which 
he could not immediately carry into execution on account 
of the monsoon, and the Governor, Sir Ealph Darling, 
advised him to employ the intervening time in examining 
the western coast and in making up for French defi- 
ciencies. 

Captain Stirling accordingly set sail, in company with 
Mr, Eraser a naturalist, rounded Cape Leeuwin on the 
2nd of March, 1827, and, having anchored in Gage's Koads 
opposite the mouth of the Swan River, proceeded to inspect 
the country lying behind the sandy banks that skirt the 
coast. The scenery, which the French had slighted or 
with which they had, perhaps, made no acquaintance, pos- 
sessed charms for the two Englishmen, and as they could 
not know by intuition that much of the verdure which 
they saw was composed of poisonous plants, they pro- 
nounced the country to be not only romantic, as indeed it 
is, but rich also. 

If the French, however, had beheld Western Australia 
through a somewhat* jaundiced medium when they stig- 
matized it as low, sandy, barren, and dreary ; with little- 
worthy of interest either in the animal, vegetable, or 
mineral creation ; it must be confessed, on the other hand, 
that Captain Stirling and Mr. Fraser surveyed the same 
prospect through a haze, which was as much too roseate as 
that of their predecessors had been tinged with yellow. 

It is diflScult to imagine, in reading the accounts of 
Western Australia which were promulgated in England 
on Captain Stirling's return, that it is the same country as 
that which is described in the * Voyage de Decouvertes * ; 
but an imfeebng captain, ill-provisioned ships, and a great 



Digitized 



by Google 



312 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

mortality from scurvy, are unfavourable oonditi(»is for 
seeing anything in a cheerful light; beside which it does 
not seem clear that the French ever penetrated to any 
considerable distance from the shore. 

The descriptive sketch which the English explorers 
wrote of the new land was filled up in highly-coloured 
detail by the imagination of their readers, and the bar at 
the entrance of the river Swan, which Captain Stirling 
ascertained to consist of four hundred and eighty yards of 
limestone, with four fathoms of water on either side, was 
expected to drop piecemeal before the progress of civiliza- 
tion. The * Annual Register' of 1828 suggests that "when 
a town begins to spring up upon the banks of the Swan, 
and substantial buildings are required, the use of the bar 
as a stone-quarry for architectural purposes will go far to 
defray the cost of removing iL" 

The point upon which Captain Stirling's impressions 
appear to have been widest of the mark was in his sup- 
posing that Western Australia was abundantly supplied 
with fresh water ; and his observation*, that the tracing of a 
channel in the sand with the finger would be followed by 
trickling drops, can only be accounted for by an imusual 
quantity of rain having immediately preceded his arrival, 
and also by the winter of the year before having been 
immoderately wet Experience has proved, however, that 
Captain Stirling's encomiums on the "West Australian 
climate were not exaggerated, and that his judgment was 
also correct in pronouncing Cockbum Soimd to be the best 
and safest anchorage in the vicinity of the river Swan. 

Cockbum Sound Ues a few miles westward of Ffe- 
mantle between the mainland and Garden Island, which 



Digitized 



by Google 



SCHEMES FOB COLONIZING. 313 

the French had named Buache, and the alteration of 
which to Garden is the only instance, I believe, of Captain 
Stirling having changed any of their denominations. 
Whilst the * Success' lay off Swan Eiver a garden had been 
made and fenced round upon Buache Island, and hence 
the alteration of the original name to one which English 
sailors would find more familiar. Two goats were left upon 
Garden Island when the * Success' sailed away, and as I 
have heard that there are goats there to this day I con- 
clude that they are descended from the original pair. 

I must now hasten on to describe the causes that led to 
the colonization of Western Australia, and the manner in 
which it was conducted. According to a work entitled 
* The Three Colonies of Australia,' * ». e. New South Wales, 
Victoria, and South Australia, an impression prevailed, at 
the time of Captain Stirling's inspection of Swan River, 
that large fortunes, equal to those which had been abeady 
made in New South Wales, might be realized with even 
greater facility in a new colony unshackled with a convict 
population. Mr. Peel, a gentleman who had influence 
with Government, and who was also a cousin of the states- 
man, combined with certain Sydney merchants to found a 
colony of this experimental kind. A fitting locality was 
alone wanting, and the favourable reports which Captain 
Stirling had given of Western Australia induced Mr. Peel 
and the merchants to conceive that they should find in 
Swan River all the requisites that were necessary for the 
carrying out of their scheme. 

" Geographical t reasons led the adventurers to expect 

• * The Three Colonies of Australia,' p. 90. Samuel Sidney. London : 
Ingram Cooke & Co. 1853. t Ibid. 



Digitized 



by Google 



314 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

a temperate climate ; further precise investigations as to 
the quality of the soil, extent of pastures, and character of 
the aborigines were considered unnecessary." An easy 
assent was obtained from Government to the proposals for 
making the new settlement, of which Captain Stirling was 
appointed the Governor, and thus the colony of Swan 
Eiver (a name now associated with transportation only) 
commenced its first start by repudii^ting any admiztore of 
convictism in its society. 

The earliest colonists were chiefly composed of persons 
belonging to the middle and upper middle classes, whose 
prominent idea seemed to be that of foanding a settlement 
of gentlemen, each of whom, it was arranged, should re- 
ceive a grant of land in proportion to the number of 
labourers and the quantity of property that he carried out 
with him; the last condition being quite independent of 
what sort of property it was, whether such as would be 
of immediate use, or such as could only become useful by 
ingenious adaptation. 

*" The oflBcial persons, from the Governor down to the 
humblest oflScers, were to be paid in land — ^were in fact, 
like the followers of the old feudal conquerors, to receive 
a territorial investment for the support of their official 
dignity. Thus the Governor had a hundred thousand acres 
set apart for him, whilst the humbler officers generally 
obtained about five thousand each. The colonists in 
general were to obtain land according to the means of 
emigration which they furnished, it being quite over- 
looked that those who took out free labourers could not 

* ' Emigrant's MaDtial/ p. 91. John Hill Burton. Edinburgh : 
Chambers. 1851. 



Digitized 



by Google 



FIRST SETTLERS. 315 

compel them to work for their exporters, or even to re- 
main in the colony." 

Writers on colonial subjects have generally spared but 
little space for observations on Western Australia, but the 
disastrous landing of her first white inhabitants has not 
wanted chroniclers. The style of it was even more re- 
markable than that in which the first batch of convicts 
was tumbled ashore in New South Wales, when the 
finding of an experienced bricklayer amongst them was 
hailed as " a piece of unexpected good fortune,*' * for in 
1788 it was not the fashion, as it is now, to bestow much 
attention to the comforts of prisoners, whereas the im- 
migration to Swan Eiver was voluntary, its original 
colonists were of a superior grade, and the value of the 
property which was brought out by them in the first 
year alone, was of a very considerable amount. 

'* In 1829," says the * Emigrant's Manual,' t " the stream 
of emigration began to set in upon the settlement. The 
first settlers arrived in June and July, the mid-winter of 
the antipodes. Many of them were people of considerable 
substance, and they brought with them, besides herds, 
flocks and agricultural implements, sundry articles of 
furniture, dresses and jewellery. The ships landed them 
with their property on the barren shore. There were 
no towns or dwellings, no store-houses; no one respon- 
sible for assisting the helpless emigrants, who landed 
like fugitives before a pursuing enemy. The allotments 
could not be found, for the land had not been surveyed, 
and those who had so many thousands of acres assigned 
to them might find their property where they could. 
♦ * Three Colonies,* p. 27. t * Emigrant's Manual/ p. 91. 



Digitized 



by Google 



316 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

** Before the end of the year, twenty-five ships had 
reached the shore, with nearly a thousand emigrants, and 
property worth about fifty thousand pounds. Early in the 
ensuing year the number of settlers and the quantity of 
property landed were more than doubled. The tide poured 
in until there was time to communicate at home the dis- 
astrous reception of the settlers. Then indeed it of a 
necessity subsided, and people awaited with uneasy expeo- 
tation for further news from the land of promise. The 
intelligence was distinct enough. The colony was just as 
if so many people had been shipwrecked, had been able to 
get ashore, and then depended on the chances of finding 
food, or of being picked up." 

The system on which the distribution of the land was 
carried out, helped to complete the misfortunes of the 
settlement. The good land was of no great extent, and 
what there was of it fell into the hands of those who least 
knew how to turn it to account, whilst for respectable men 
of a lower class, to whom agriculture was not an unknown 
science, there were no allotments left but such as woold 
not repay cultivation. 

To fill up the list of disasters, many sheep died of 
** poison" before the mischievous plants could even be 
identified ; a fine stud of thorough-bred horses is said to 
htive perished for want of water, and the casualties to 
which live-stock was exposed were forther increased by 
the native habit of spearing it whenever an opportunity 
presented itself; the apprenticed servants were dis- 
heartened and clamoured for the canceUing of their in- 
dentures, and the gentlemen had to become day-labourers 



Digitized 



by Google 



SCUBVY. 317 

with insufficient bone and sinew as also a want of requisite 
knowledge for the task. 

It was then that many turned their backs upon the 
colony, quitting it for Sydney, Tasmania, and the Cape, 
where they freely denounced Swan Eiver as sterile, un- 
healthy, and what not, though had the charge of un- 
healthiness been well founded, none but the malcontent 
refugees would have survived to give any account of it 
It is true that many of the first immigrants died of scurvy, 
but the wonder is that the deaths from this cause were not 
far more numerous. Salt meat, which had been the prin- 
cipal diet on board ship, continued to be the bill of fare 
for many a long day after landing, and the colonists could 
not, of course, obtain fresh vegetables until they had 
sowed and grown them for themselves. 

" We lived at one place for nearly two years," said one 
of our acquaintances, '' before we knew that the ground 
would bear cabbages," and, under these circumstances, it 
did not surprise us to hear that when these cabbages came 
up, which had been experimentally sown, they were cut 
whilst only in the second leaf. Nor was this early cutting 
merely resorted to in order to satisfy the natural craving 
for green food, but sometimes also on account of veritable 
hunger. The groimd had to be surveyed and cleared 
before it could be either ploughed or sowed, and long 
before the colonists ceased to depend upon imported com 
they had twice suffered from the misery of fSeonine. In a 
word, the recital of the haixlships which had been under- 
gone in those days by all who resolved to stick by the 
colony, or who had not the means of leaving it, excited 



Digitized 



by Google 



.318 SKETCHES J2V WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

our admiratioa and pity; mixed with vexation tliat the 
same persons who had shown such brave endurance should 
have afterwards stooped to mend their condition by asking 
the Home Government for convicts. 

Governor Stirling did all that was possible to be accom- 
plished under the difficult circumstances. He sent to the 
Cape for com, and bought up all private stores of flour 
amongst the immigrants at a fixed rate ; he also paid a 
visit to England in 1832, for the purpose of laying before 
the Colonial Office the deplorable state of the settlement, 
and his return to Swan River in the following year infused 
fresh courage into the disheartened band, and animated all 
to new exertion. 

If the want of common sense that characterized the 
colonization of Swan Kiver had not caused so much ruin 
and misery, it would be difficult to contemplate the landing 
of its first immigrants from any point of view but that of 
the absurd. The sort of goods with which the ships were 
freighted would almost lead one to suppose that the pas- 
sengers had expected to step from their floating homes to 
a row of ready-built handsome houses, in which they 
would have nothing to do but sit down and unpack the 
furniture which they had brought with them. Every 
appurtenance of civilized life that could encumber a colony 
at its outset Uttered the beach after the vessels were 
unladen. Thus, for a country that had neither roads nor 
inns, one or two travelling carriages had been provided — 
pianos, of course, were not forgotten, and I even heard of 
a harp being brought ashore, which my informant was 
carefiil to add " had a gold ball at the top." 

I am bound to confess that the owners of the equipages 



Digitized 



by Google 



EABLY TRIALS. 319 

turned them to good accoimty for they slept inside them 
after landing — ^pianos, too, were of use for the sake of their 
packing-cases in a country where the natural woods are 
so hard that a bit of soft deal is a great prize. But the 
line of utility, stretch and .extend it how one would, could 
not be made to comprehend harps, and the instrument 
with its gold ball was re-shipped, and finally found a 
resting-place in the Isle of France. 

The greater part of the immigrants bivouacked under 
tents, but many of them had not even the protection of 
canvas, and crept for shelter into the caves upon the sea- 
shore, in one of which I was told that a family had lived 
for a fortnight^ and that the mother lost the use of her 
limbs from rheumatism in consequence. 

Winter in Swan Kiver is a very windy time, and one 
of the annoyances of living in tents was the firequent 
necessity for running out in the middle of the night to 
secure such ropes as the wind had blown loose. The 
insecurity of the tents in the strong winter gales was a 
fact to which I often heard the older colonists allude as 
one of their miseries, suggesting to my mind that the 
piano, on which a lady assured me that she had been used 
to play whilst she lived under canvas, must have been 
very much out of tune. 

One of the settlers, who had landed as a boy, told me 
that the duty of fastening the ropes of the family tent 
had devolved upon himself and his brother, and that on 
one especial night when they had to leave their beds on 
this service, they were rendered more wakeful than usual 
by the sound of signal guns from a ship in distress. The 
boys made their way to the beach, where, distinguishing 



Digitized 



by Google 



320 SKETOHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

nothing in the darkness excepting one person walking np 
and down alone who had been aroused by the firing, they 
thought it best to go back to bed. When morning broke 
a vessel with a fresh load of immigrants was observed to 
be grounded upon a sand-bank, with the waves beating 
heavily on her. The passengers and crew, however, were 
all rescued, although in nearing the shore a boatload of 
women and children was capsized in the surf. The boys, 
of course, were eager spectators of the affair, and a little 
girl who was fished out of the water eventually became 
the wife of one of them. 

The failure of Swan River put a final end to the system 
of free grants of land in Australia; but either this fsixA 
was not universally known, or a supposition existed in 
Barladong that, in case of overwhelming merit, the prac- 
tice might be revived of rewarding private individuals 
with Government fiefe. 

Whatever the necessary pitch of deserving might be, a 
hard-working neighbour of ours, whose worldly wealth 
consisted of a little flock of some dozen or so of goats, 
deemed that he had reached the requisite climax on the 
morning that his wife presented him with twins. Perhaps 
ne had dim recollections of clergymen at home duly 
advising their sovereign of the advent of three subjects 
born at a birth, and may have thought, not altogether 
unreasonably, that twins being somewhat of a similar 
phenomenon in Swan Kiver, and free immigrants wanted 
there, a grateful Government might express its sense of 
the obligation he haA conferred on it by endowing his 
progeny with a few acres. 

He therefore waylaid us as we were riding past his mud 



Digitized 



by Google 



TWINS. 321 

dwelling, the road in front of which was littered with chil- 
dren and little kids sitting together in the dustj and' 
begged my husband to draw up a- petition for him to His 
Excellency, " praying him to bestow a small grant of land 
upon the two youngest members of the goatherd's family." 
My husband willingly undertook the task, and acquitted 
himself of it in a most moving manner, but the higher 
powers were not to be mollified, even by the meiits of 
twins, and the case was rejected as one that justified no 
departure from existing rules. 

The idea that West Australia might yet offer a valu- 
able field for the investment of English capital was not 
quito effaced by the result of the disastrous programme 
for the colonizing of Swan Eiver, and a plan for the 
formation of a second settlement was ushered into exist- 
ence ten years later by some London speculators, who 
composed what was called the "Australind Company." 
The name of Australind which was bestowed- on the new 
colony had, possibly, been chosen with a view of calling 
attention to the advantages of its geographical position, 
for, ever since the first settling of Swan River, West 
Australians have been reminding the Indian public that 
they are its near neighbours, and that their colonial air 
would greatly benefit the children of residents in Bengal. 

The site of Australind was fixed at Leschenault Inlet, 
in a southern direction from Perth, and the persons who 
embarked their fortunes in the settlement were of the 
same class in society as the original immigrants to Swan 
River. But in spite of the experience which had been 
earned for the Australind settler by the mistakes and 
misfortunes of his forerunner, the same disappointments 



Digitized 



by Google 



822 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

that befell the one also awaited the other, and apparently 
froDi causes that were very similar. It is true that the 
custom of excessive free grants had ceased to exist, and 
that the Australind immigrants were " located on sections 
of one hundred acres each,"* but there was -a repetition of 
blighted expectations — of insufficiency of good land — of 
servants turning refractory — of masters being compelled 
to betake themselves to field labour, however unfitted 
they might have been by previous habits of life for such 
employment. In fact, it was the same old story of people 
in comfortable circumstances rushing blindfold into dis- 
comfort of every imaginable kind, without any succeeding 
compensation. 

Even, the lesser details of the Australind settlement 
bore a strong resemblance to those of the landing of the 
Swan River immigrants, such, for instance, as people living 
in a tent for six months, and then being totally deprived 
of it in a windy night of July, and of a house door being 
made out of the packing-case of a piano. 

Eventually the settlement collapsed and came to a 
comparatively quiet end, but its failure helped to fSsist^i 
on the colony of Swan River more firmly than ever that 
worst of misfortunes, a bad name, and thenceforward the 
mention of Western Australia to English ears elicited no 
other response than a sigh or a silent shrug of tlie 
shoulders. 

Had the discovery of the mineral districts preceded, 
instead of having followed, the settling of Australind, 
there can be little doubt that the " company " would have 
commenced mining operations amongst the rich veins of 

♦ * Beport on the Statistics of Western Australia in ISiO.* Perth, 1841. 



Digitized 



by Google 



METALS. 323 

lead and copper at Champion Bay, in preference to col- 
lecting a few sheep and cattle farmers on the limited 
pastures of Leschenanlt Inlet. 

The metal-bearing country was stated* in 1862 to 
occupy a space of between four and five thousand square 
miles, one-fourth of which was " known to contain exten- 
sive beds of copper and lead, and seams of coal, with 
silver, antimony, plumbago, and arsenic and iron in 
smaller quantities ; minute specks of gold have also been 
found by washing the sands in the beds of some of the 
streams." The lead and copper workings which have 
been established have proved that the quality of both 
ores is very fine, but the same circumstances which have 
obstructed the development of the colony since its com- 
mencement, and prevented it from outgrowing its early 
disadvantages, have also hindered the owners of the mines 
from realizing any vast amount of profit, and what those 
circumstances arise from will be related* in the following 
chapter. 

* ' DesoriptiTe Catalogue of the GoUeotion of Piodaots and Manufactures 
contributed by the Ck>lony of West Australia to the International Exhibi- 
tion of 1862,' 



Digitized 



by Google 



324 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTSALTA. 



CHAPTER XIV. 

Swan River immigrants begin to see their position — Valuable commcr- 
cinl products of Western Australia — Scanty means of turning them to 
account — Settlers decide upon asking Home Government for convicts 

— Suitability of colony as vast jail — Rations — Schemes for im- 
proving circumstances of colony — Superior class of prisonere in early 
convict ships — Long sentences — Government expenditure requin'd 
in West Australia for many years to come — Frequent allusion to 
Government — Government men — Proposal scouted for introduction 
of Government w(»nen — Difficulty of procuring female immigrants — 
Women disheartened on landing — Bigamy — Situation of convicts' 
wives — Ultra-Protestantiijm — Ciiild surreptitiously carried out to be 
christened — Matrimonial disputes — Social inequalities — Small num- 
ber of respectable women — A convict's wedding — Shifting natare 
of population — Glazier cannot come — Eflfect of familiarity with 
crime — Causes assigned by convicts for being transported — The 
tax-cart, and other anecdotes — Convict geologist — " Addicted to 
sharpening of a- knife*' — Convicts in church — No rule withooft 
exception — Religious instruction of convicts on road parties much 
overlooked formerly — Present position of chaplains — Impossibility 
under existing circumstances of chaplains' visits being of much benefit 
to road parties — Books craved for — Warder's disappointment on 
examining box — Convicts' notions on week-day and Sunday services 

— Sort of books preferred by convicts — Sitting near the pulpit — 
E£fect on personal comfort produced by convict servants — London 
pickpocket — Preference for machiueiy in place of convict labour. 

Having now concluded the episode of the Australind 
settlement, I must turn back to the history of the Swan 
Kiver immigrants and their brave buffetings with evil for- 
time. The discovery that not only would all the garden 
vegetables thrive in Western Australia, but that its climate 
was also splendidly adapted for producing com, did not, 
unluckily, put a period to the disappointments of the 



Digitized 



by Google 



WANT OF HARBOURS. 325 

colonists. The struggle, at first, had been one of life and 
death, and when experience proved that starvation was no 
longer to be dreaded, the minds of individuals naturally 
reverted to the original purpose with which they had left 
England — namely, that of making their fortunes. 

Now the mistake had been committed of settling the 
country without duly scanning it beforehand, and time, 
which revealed its many valuable commercial products, 
brought also the disheartening conviction that there were 
scarcely any means of turning them into money. An 
impracticable desert was found to lie between West 
Australia and its neighbours on the landward side, and 
the exploring of the long stretch of seaboard convinced the 
colonists that in a coast-line of some three thousand miles. 
King George's Sound, in the extreme south of the settle- 
ment, was the only natural harbour of which their terri- 
tory boasted, that was fit for large vessels. Moreover, 
though the dimensions of Western Australia comprise 
geographically one-third of the continent, its available 
land extends no farther back from the coast than two 
hundred miles at the utmost, nor is this narrow fringe 
otherwise than disconnected, and consisting of watered 
patches here and there, rather than of an uninterrupted 
line of good country. Behind this circumscribed belt the 
utmost exertions have as yet failed to discover either 
fresh-water lakes or rivers. 

This want of a background to the colony has been of 
course very detrimental to its prospects, but in an in- 
finitely less degree than its scanty means of communica- 
tion with the rest of the world. On this last account the 
settlers have been driven to look upon wool as their staple 



Digitized 



by Google 



326 SKETCHES IN WESTEBN AUSTRALIA. 

article of export because it could be packed and shipped 
without much trouble, whereas they would long ago have 
ceased to deplore the " poisoD," which limits the size of 
their sheep-runs, could any easy transmission have been 
found for the innumerable horses which might have been 
bred upon the same ground which has proved so fatal to 
their flocks. 

K an easy land communication existed between Perth 
and Adelaide a lively picture might .be drawn of the 
position which Western Australia would assume. Rich in 
lead, copper, and ironstone, with forests equivalent to un- 
limited beds of coal, she might be the manufacturing dis- 
trict to the whole of Australia, whilst at the same time its 
granary and vineyard. Instead of importing salt she 
might supply it to other countries from her salt lakes, and 
a colonial Wedgwood would possibly find a better use for 
kaolin than that of whitening a kitchen chimney. The 
mulberry-trees would be filled with silkworms, and olive 
oil, instead of travelling to West Australia from Italy t?td 
England, would be produced from the abundant berries 
which drop from the colonial olive-trees, unregarded at 
present by any but pigs and childi-en. But articles of 
commerce which there is no means of carrying to market, 
are as useless to their owners as the Spanish gold pieces 
were to Robinson Crusoe upon his desert island ; and the 
colonists, after struggling with their ill-luck for twenty 
years, devised a plan which they were fain to think would 
bring a market to their own* very doors. 

It was plain that, in spite of the *' poison," a great deal 
more mutton could be grown in the colony than was 
needed for the consumption of its inhabitants, and if an 



Digitized 



by Google 



PETITION FOR CONVICTS. 327 

extraneous population could but be introduced which 
should eat the superfluity, and the Home Government 
be induced to pay the bill of fare, matters might even 
yet improve in Swan Kiver. Conditions of this kind 
limited the choice of persons to convicts, but as these 
would be accompanied by a train of Government officials 
and police, the colonists decided upon asking for them, 
and accordingly petitioned that their country might be 
converted into a penal settlement. As such, its geogra- 
phical disadvantages assumed a different character, for the 
havenless shore and impassable woods which had excluded 
trade, superseded in great measure the necessity of build- * 
ing prison walls. In fact, viewed simply as a jail, the 
colony appeared as if Nature had intended it for no other 
purpose, and this point having been duly recognized in 
England, thje bidden guests soon arrived in such num- 
bers as to give Fremantle a resemblance to the lion's 
den in the fable, the threshold of which bore traces only 
of footsteps that had entered, but of none that ever had 
returned. 

I could not help remarking that an amusing sort of 
self-deception prevailed amongst the West Australians in 
a habit of expressing themselves as if they had done the 
mother-country a great favour in receiving the criminals 
whom they themselves had asked for, and that she could 
only relieve herself from a heavy burden of gratitude by 
the expenditure of correspondingly heavy sums of money 
for the good of her colonial benefactors. 

My husband once asked a settler, with some surprise, 
at the close of a meeting which had been called for the 
purpose of urging upon Government the necessity of 



Digitized 



by Google 



328 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

building additional police barracks in our town, what 
possible reason he could have for thinking that the lai^r 
police barracks were required. The settler appeared to 
think, like Sir Andrew Aguecheek, that he had " reaj?on 
good enough," and frankly owned that its strength con- 
sisted in the fact that Government had lately built new 
barracks in a town fifty miles off, thus incurring the 
obligation, so our friend thought, to expend a similar sum 
of money in the town where he resided. 

Inasmuch, however, as to eat is a daily necessity, and 
each prisoner and each warder whose business it is to look 
after him represents a person requiring to be fed, the 
Government building contracts are somewhat less eagerly 
competed for than the contracts for supplying road parties 
and convict depots with " rations.'* This word " ration" is as 
potential in Western Australia as the " all-mighty dollar" 
in America, and a stranger has gained no insight into the 
real internal state of the colony until he becomes aware 
that the pivot on which society turns is the canvassing for 
the various Government contracts, and that enemies 
shake hands, and friends become foes, according to the 
publication of results. 

However much this state of things is to be regretted, it 
is no more than might have been expected in a colony 
dependent upon a large Government expenditure, and 
excluded from all ordinary means of making money, save 
this one of supplying the necessaries of life upon a large 
scale to an artificial population. The feeding of other 
people — whether soldiers, sailors, police, or prisoners — and 
the cost to be defrayed by Government, seemed to be the 
one panacea for all colonial disasters. Thus I heard it 



Digitized 



byGooglc 



FIRST CONVICT SHIPS. 329 

averred that a military officer had done West Australia a 
great wrong in representing to the Home Government 
that five companies of the line formed a larger body of 
men than were required there ; and another set of advisers 
were incessantly desiring to recommend the virtues of the 
climate to the notice of physicians, in order that the 
colony should be resorted to as a gigantic Sanitarium by 
invalid soldiers from India. 

However unhkely it may be that the Home Government 
regarded the settlers' request fot convicts in the light of 
disinterested benevolence, there can be no doubt that it 
was made at an extremely convenient moment for English 
legislators, and that, so far, Western Australia deserves 
well at their hands. The Cape colonists had just declared 
that convicts " must not, could not, and should not " be 
landed in South Africa, and the willingness of the people 
in Swan Kiver to accept them relieved the Government 
from a present dilemma, and perhaps staved off for some 
time longer the question of compulsory education. At all 
events it appears to have been judged impolitic to let the 
applicants find out too soon the nature of the boon which 
they had demanded, for the best-disposed prisoners in the 
English jails were selected to make up the first shiploads 
sent to the colony. 

As time passed on a much worse class of criminals com- 
posed the cargoes, so that to have " come out *' in one of 
the first ships was a point on which a man might deservedly 
pride himself. Comparisons were indeed so much in 
favour of the first comers, that even the long term of 
transportation to which all of them had been condemned 
was regarded as no disparagement by the settlers, whilst 



Digitized 



by Google 



330 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

from the men's own point of view, " a long sentence " ap- 
peared to confer a certain degree of dignity. 

I remember a poor decrepit old Yorkshireman em- 
phasizing, with many shakes of the head, the fact of his 
sentence having been " Two-and-twenty year, and Tyc 
served every one of 'eml" His air and his manner, in 
pronouncing these words, was that of a man who might 
have been quitting as honourable a calling as the army or 
navy, with an extra pension for good conduct. He had 
been lodged for a time, on accoimt of old age and infirmity, 
in the asylum at Fremantle, which receives within its 
walls both sane and insane persons, and when T remon- 
strated with him on his having quitted it he assigned as a, 
reason for doing so that the exercise yard of tie " barmy 
fellows," as he called the madmen, (meaning, I suppose, 
that their brains were in an unnatural state of working,) 
was but a stone's throw from himself and his rational com- 
panions, a circumstance of which the inmates of the said 
yard were accustomed to avail themselves, according to 
his account, in a literal sense, for the purpose of annoying 
their neighbours by volleys of pebbles. 

One result of petitioning for convicts, which year by 
year will make itself more heavily felt, is the burden of 
maintaining so great a number of useless persons as these 
poor quondam rogues become in their old age. A large 
pauper population would be bad enough, even if it were 
composed of no worse elements than the men belonging 
to the earlier convict ships ; but of the later human con- 
signments the best that could be said was, that they were 
utterly useless as labourers, and that the aggregate was 
made up of hardened villains. Lender these circumstauces 



Digitized 



by Google 



« Q OVERNMENir 331 

one thing is certain, that, for many years to come, a large 
expenditure of Government money will be required in 
Western Australia. The colony has been saturated with 
professors of crime, and if, by the withdrawal of home sup- 
plies, the dangerous classes within it should ever want 
bread, the position of the free settlers would be very 
terrible. 

The frequent reference in West Australia to the word 
** Government," and the manner in which it was alluded to, 
might have led one to suppose that it was an imaginary 
creature whose character varied with that of each person 
who spoke of it, and with the peculiar views which he or 
she took of things in general. Thus I have known it 
quoted by children to sanction their having pelted a turkey 
to death, on the plea that "Mother says as how it is 
Government ground, and we may do as we like." 

Or again, it was represented as possessed with especial 
spite and malice towards one individual convict, who would 
•express his inward belief that ** Government had a down 
upon him." Or as a landlord to whom no sort of con- 
sideration was due ; thus I remember a warder's wife telling 
me what trouble she had taken in their last " quarters " 
to keep the boards white by scrubbing them with sand, 
but who broke off in her recital as if ashamed of the 
pleasure that she had ielt in her cleanliness, and sighed 
out "the more fool I, for wasting such pains upon a 
Government floor." 

** Government men " is also the self-chosen style and 
title of the convicts, and the only definition of their estate 
which they accept from the outer world without resent- 
ment. Happily for the future of Western Australia, it 



Digitized 



by Google 



332 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA, 

contains no such persons as " Government women/' thongh 
the question was once mooted by some of the settlers as to 
whether a small number of female convicts should not be 
admitted. The proposal, however, met with so much dis- 
approbation in the colony that it was at once withdrawn, 
and the opposite course was adopted of begging the 
Emigration Commissioners to send out respectable wom^ 
unacquainted with the interior of jail or penitentiary, who 
might act as domestic servants, and reclaim the convicts 
by becoming their wives. 

The authorities might have answered, ** I can call spirits 
from the vasty deep," but call as they would, respectable 
single women, however poor they might be, entirely de- 
clined to come out to Swan River to become the wives of 
even " reformed " criminals, and it has been found impos- 
sible to obtain a sufficient number of young women, even 
of such a class as the greater part of our fellow-passengere 
on board ship, to supply wives to one-half of the single 
convicts now at liberty. Hence arises the deplorable 
inequality between the numbers of the single men and 
single women shown by the census of 1870 ; an inequality 
however, which seems likely to have one good result, since 
from the comparatively small number of convicts who 
have been able to marry and brmg up families, and the 
rapid diminution of the older men by death, it seems 
probable that the convict element of the colony will not 
make so large a mark upon the future population as might 
naturally be exi)ected, but will gradually die out, now tiiat 
the yearly supply is stopped. 

Few as the emigrant girls were we often wished that 
their numbers had been even less, so many were the 



Digitized 



by Google 



WOMEN'S WAGES. 333 

histories that we knew concerning them of wretched dis- 
appointment and moral deterioration. The strong demand 
for single women has induced those individuals to whom 
the task has heen entrusted of meeting it to regard the 
case too much from one point of view only, and decent 
girls being found unwilling to emigrate to a penal colony, 
the fact that it is one has sometimes been concealed from 
them until after they have sailed, whilst in the meantime 
they have generally received a description of its merits 
altogether fabulous. 

The wages of women servants (charwomen excepted, who 
receive the disproportionately large sum of three shillings 
a day) are not higher than in England, and the work is 
much harder and rougher than at home on account of the 
hot summers and the absence of home conveniences. It 
is true that the trouble of blackleading and polishing 
grates and fire-irons is obviated by the custom of burning 
wood upon the open hearths, but of other compensations 
to a girl for the quitting of friends, home, and country, 
there are none to enumerate, and. in all other respects the 
change is for the worse. 

The female immigrants are disheartened, immediately 
after landing, by finding convicts for fellow-servants, and 
the additional discovery that the prospects of marriage 
oflfer nothing better than a selection from the same class, 
causes those girls who have friends already settled in 
Sydney or Melbourne, resolutely to save money in order 
that they may join them there. The larger trading vessels 
thus annually carry away a little stream of women i'rom 
the colony, but they are the fortunate few — the greater 
number remain, and become convicts' wives, or perhaps 



Digitized 



by Google 



331 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

nominal wives, for it has been computed that out of a 
hundred convicts' marriages in Swan River forty of them 
only are legal, the rest being simply acts of bigamy on 
the part of the men. This is not, however, for want of 
swearing to the contrary, for, the solenm vows of the 
religious service itself not being thought sufficient by 
the colonial legislators, the reading of it is preceded 
by secular oaths, which the clergyman is obliged to ad- 
minister, to the effect that no lawful hindrances exist 
to the union. This preamble, which gives an additional 
opportunity of perjury, is considered to supersede the 
necessity of banns, which are not legally required in 
the colony, and any marriage may take place at five 
minutes' notice, except in the Church of England* 

A person of our acquaintance once received a letter 
from an unknown female correspondent in England, asking 
for news of her husband, who was, she said, a ticket-of- 
leave holder in the service of the person to whom she 
addressed herself. The writer proceeded to say that, in 
consequence of having heard nothing of her husband for a 
yettr past, she had thought it best to apply to his master 
for tidings of him, and concluded her letter with sending 
him affectionate messages from* "his six sons and only 
daughter." I never heard whether an answer was returned 
to the letter ; but we were told that the subject of its 
inquiries " turned all colours " when it was laid before him, 
as indeed he well might, for, having always passed himself 
off as a single man, he had prevailed on an Irish immi- 
grant girl to marry him three months before. 

However, although no such discovery as that of a prior 
wife may await the convict's bride, there is seldom much 



Digitized 



by Google 



OLD ASSOCIATES, 335 

CDinfort in store for her. It is not by any means that 
such men always prove unkind husbands, but the associa- 
tions that such marriages bring with them cannot fail to 
entail misery upon decent women. Let anyone suppose 
herself surrounded with acquaintances whose every-day 
language it is of itself a real calamity to hear, and whose 
countenances partake more or less of a likeness to such 
vagrants as one would dislike to meet alone in a narrow 
lane, and some sort of notion may then be had of the visit- 
ing list of a convict in Western Australia. In other society 
marriage gives a man the opportunity of dropping unde- 
sirable acquaintanceships, but there seems no possibility 
of ever being rid of those which have been formed in jail ; 
they have a tenacity which better friendships sometimes 
lack. 

One of the heaviest parts of a convict's punishment, 
offering also the severest hindrance to his reformation, is 
that he has it not in his power to shake himself so entirely 
free from old companions as that they shall never enter his 
doors ; he cannot, if he would, in a penal settlement stand 
altogether aloof from the class with which crime has iden- 
tified him, and the meeting of former associates ends too 
often in the hatching of new offences. Then comes re- 
conviction, and the wife must shift for herself whilst the 
husband spends a fresh term in jail. If she is a Boman 
Catholic the opportunity of the husband's absence, for a 
fixed and definite period, is perhaps utilized for sending 
the child or children to a school of her own faith, at the 
probable cost to herself of a beating^hen the head of the 
family is liberated, for, as if there were not abeady suf- 
ficient seeds of discord in a body of ^^en made up of wa]& 



Digitized 



by Google 



336 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA, 

from pretty nearly all nations, the " odium theologicum" 
helps to fill up the measure. 

The professions of ultra-Protestantism that we used to 
meet with amongst the convicts frequently reminded me 
of the experience of Lord George Gordon's servant, in 
*Bamaby Rudge,' that "Protestants were very fond of 
spoons, when airy doors were left open," and to those per- 
sons who regard the name of Protestant as expre^ing a 
religion in itself, it must be a matter of surprise that so 
many of these pretended devotees come to be transported. 
On the other hand, a great proportion of the immigrant 
women who marry the Protestants are Boman Catholics ; 
a circumstance which forms a constant standing ground 
for bickerings, giving any disagreements the peculiar 
bitterness of all quarrels that have religion for a pretext 

On returning from a walk, one winter's day, we found 
that in our absence a native had come running to our 
house with a slip of paper, on which was written a request 
that the clergyman should lose no time in hastening to the 
cottage of a man named M*DougaIl to baptize a dying 
•child. My husband went to M*Dougall's as quickly as 
he could after receiving the message, and, finding that 
the poor baby was already dead, remained some time, 
endeavouring to comfort the parents, both of whom, he 
supposed, were sadly grieved that it had been deprived of 
baptism. 

Next morning before daylight we were aroused by a loud 
knocking at our door, where stood M*Dougall in a terrible 
state of anger and determination. He had discovered, since 
the previous evening, that his child had not died unbap- 
tized ; but that a few days before its death, when his back 



Digitized 



by Google 



AN ANGR Y PROTESTANT, 337 

was tamed, the nurse, with his wife's connivance, had 
whisked it off to the priest, and now that he had found it 
Qut he W613 resolved on repairing the evil as far as yet lay 
in his power. . Let who might have christened the child it 
should at least have the advantage of being buried amongst 
Protestants, and, as his own business took him betimes into 
the bush, he had come at this early hour to make sure of 
appointing the fimeraL It was throwing words away to 
tell M*Dougall that the baptism which his child had re- 
ceived was valid. Although he insisted on his having been 
brought up a Presbyterian, reh'gion had plainly nothing 
to do with the matter, but the being made a fool of had a 
great deal ; the promised funeral seemed alone to placate 
him, and, the certificate of baptism having been obtained 
from the priest, the poor baby was duly buried. 

Two years afterwards my husband was again sent for by 
M'Dougall's wife to baptize another child, which was also 
dead on his arrival : this time he offered no consolation feel- 
ing sure that the mother had acted alike on both occasions, 
and that she had purposely delayed her request for his at- 
tendance until within a. few moments of the infant's death. 

Another Eoman Catholic woman once came to our house 
to beg that we would remonstrate with her Protestant 
husband on his ill-treatment of her ; the priest also, as we 
afterwards found by comparing notes with him, having 
been waited upon by the man to bespeak a reproof for the 
wife, on account of her misconduct towards himself; though 
it was not often that the conflicting parties adopted such 
moderate measures. I recommended the woman to fill her 
mouth with water when her husband was angry, that she 
might prevent herself from giving him provocation by 



Digitized 



by Google 



338 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

spiteful answers, but, unfortunately, my prescription wanted 
the charm of novelty : " the Sisters," at Perth, she said, 
had already advised the same. 

Where, however, the name of religion was not dragged 
in as a reason for matrimonial disputes, there were two 
other causes which produced an unfailing supply. The«e 
were the drunkenness of the men, and the wounded pride 
of the women caused by the unavoidable consciousness that 
the tabooed 'position of the convict was reflected upon his 
wife. Under these deplorable circumstances the only phase 
of married life which seemed compatible with any degree of 
happiness was that of persons engaged in cultivating a 
piece of land remote from neighbours, where the necessity 
for working hard, and the difficulty of obtaining drink, 
might help to keep both parties in their right senses. 
Very little actual money is made by these small farmers; 
but the pigs and fowls, which they rear at slight cost, 
supply them with a better table than falls to the lot of 
day-labourers at home, while the lonehness of the situation 
causes that colonial line of separation between bond and 
free to be forgotten, which, inevitable though it be, re- 
sembles the distinctions in America between white and 
coloured people. 

The habit of immoderate drinking which prevailed in 
the colonial towns was not by any means confined to the 
men, nor even to those women, only, who were chafed by 
social inequalities. We had lived but one fortnight in our 
Australian parsonage before learning how rare it was to 
find a woman, amongst our poorer neighbours, of whom 
it could be said that she was habitually sober. An old 
resident whom I asked to recommend me a washerwoman^ 



Digitized 



by Google 



ILL-OMENED NUPTIALS. 339 

replied that she knew of none better than her own, " who 
sometimes came too drmik to do her work." 

The notion that all were equally intemperate was incor- 
rect, but the number of respectable poor women was very . 
small, and, as time passed on, was diminished rather than 
increased. It was evident to us, after living some time in 
the colony, that a much greater amount of vice was be- 
coming apparent on the surface than had been the case 
when we landed, not that we had grown more observant, 
but that the quick relays of convict ships were fast gor- 
ging the place with oflFenders. Female deterioration was 
in proportion, and those who, under the invisible restraints 
of home, might have remained innocent and useful, be- 
came such as women only can become whom fate has cast 
adrift upon a penal settlement. 

My husband once performed a marriage where the 
person who Itood proxy for the bride's father, and gave 
her away, was one who had been transported for cutting 
his own wife's head oflF; and the news which reached us, 
three weeks afterwards, of the bridegroom having been 
arrested on suspicion of murder, seemed a fitting sequel 
to such ill-omened nuptials. The newly-married wife 
came in great distress to acquaint us of the fact, and, 
under pretence of asking our advice, to beg money for 
providing her husband with a lawyer. She carried in 
her arms a baby of a fortnight old, whose wide open eyes 
might have been supposed, by a fanciful observer, to 
exhibit astonishment at the sort of society that it had 
stepped into on the threshold of life. 

With the exception of the pensioners' families the 
population that surrounded us was a very shifting one. 



Digitized 



by Google 



840 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

The smaller sort of tenements were continually changing 
their inhabitants, and I remember one house that was 
occupied by five different families in as many years, 
besides sometimes standing empty. Ticket -of- leave 
holders, as a rule, never seemed stationary for any length 
of time. They migrated hither and thither, seeking for 
work or exchanging" masters, and often disappeared for 
a period, having, as they movingly expressed it, "got 
into trouble." " Getting into trouble " involved a return 
to the " Establishment " — ^a word so naturalized in the 
colony as denoting the Government prison, that a warder's 
child once asked me in the Simday school whether " John 
Howard had not been a great man for going about to see 
Establishments?" 

Most of the convicts had learned, or more properly 
speaking had half learned, some handicraft or trade in the 
jail which they followed when they came ott ; but thdr 
customers were always liable to suffer inconvenience from 
an unexpected suspension of the business. A broken 
window has, perhaps, made us uncomfortable, and the 
glazier has been sent for to come and mend it The fiict 
of my messenger returning with, " Please, ma'am, the 
glazier can't come, for he has got two months," would 
be sufficient intimation that we must- patch up our 
window, and wait for our tradesman's enlargement 

One of our released acquaintances commenced the busi- 
ness of carrier between Barladong and Perth, and for 
some little time executed our commissions with praise- 
worthy zeal and punctuality. On one especial occasion 
I had entrusted him with the task of procuring me a 
clothes-basket, which was a luxury unattainable in any 



Digitized 



by Google 



LOW 8TANDABD OF MORALS, 341 

• 

stoT© at Barladong, He did not return as usual ; a week 
I>assedy and the basket was brought to me by a stranger, 
with the tidings that our carrier was a ddtenu. He had 
been as exact as usual in executing his customers' commis- 
sions, but had, somehow or other, failed to get clear of 
Perth without forfeiting his liberty. 

Such incidents were sometimes laughable, but they 
had also a very grave side, for the inevitable effect of 
this state of things was a general lowering of the standard 
of morals throughout the colony. Crime was such an 
every-day affair that its constant recurrence was looked 
on as a matter of course, and of no great importance 
unless the delinquent had transgressed the rights of pro- 
perty. Moral character was therefore but little con- 
sidered, and, provided that a woman had not been caught 
thieving, she was styled "respectable," and judged worthy 
of being entrusted with employments for which in England 
her manner of life would have rendered her totally ineli- 
gible. We seemed to have come out of pure fresh air 
into a close and contaminated atmosphere, while those 
whom we found living in it seemed unconscious of the 
taint, and to think us unreasonable for making any ob- 
jections. 

As to the causes assigned by the convicts and their 
friends for their banishment they were many and curious, 
but their chief interest centred in the fact that trial by 
jury seemed to have answered no other end, generally 
speaking, than that of getting the wrong man punished. 
One convict, according to his wife's statement, had been 
"sent out" only through keeping a cart and letting it 
out to hire. Qertain parties chartered it, assigning no 



Digitized 



by Google 



342 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

• 

object in doing so, and drove oflf the same night to Ae 
house of a neighbouring gentleman. Most unfortunately, 
when returned to its owner the cart was found to contain 
the whole of the gentleman's plate. Here was a plain 
case, one would have thought, of ar cari being misled and 
induced to aid in a burglary, but where was the justice 
of condemning a man to ten years' transportation in con- 
sequence of the aberrations of his vehicle I A second 
man had borrowed money from a bank, intending, he said, 
to rectify his disordered balance in three days' time, when 
he would again be in funds. Unfortunately the cashier 
was not present when the loan was effected, and he harshly 
called it a robbery. A third, a soldier, had struck his 
officer without the slightest provocation, and considered 
himself most severely used by *' getting ten years," inas- 
much as he was an innocent victim to the misdeeds of 
Bacchus. '* Why, I was bastely drunk," seemed to him 
an ample excuse for. his crime. A fourth had sacxificed 
himself to fraternal affection ; his brother's appetite could 
only be tempted by hare and pheasant, and, no poulterer's 
shop being at hand, he had used his own ingenuity to supply 
the deficiency. A fifth, on whom I suppose a Recorder 
had passed sentence,- regarded it as an extenuating ci^ 
cumstance that he had not been condemned " by a regular 
judge." In fact we could arrive at no other conclusion 
than that we must have left all the rogues at home, since 
we found none but honest men in Western Australia. 

There was, however, one convict who departed irom the 
general rule of pleading Not Guilty, and professed to have 
committed forgery on purpose to be sent to Western Aus- 
tralia. Having become a prisoner in the "Establish- 



Digitized 



by Google 



CONVICT MINEBALOQIST. 343 

ment " he signified to his jailers that, if the Goyemment 
would accept him as a cicerone, he would indicate a distant 
spot on the coast where gold was to be had for the pick- 
ing up. When asked how he came to know of such a 
place, he said that he had been a sailor on board a Dutch 
vessel which had touched on the shore, and that he had 
seen the gold lying on the beach. Prevented only, it is 
to be supposed, by a conscientious regard to the duties 
which he owed to his Dutch skipper, he did not abscond 
from his work to pocket the treasure at once; on the 
contrary with great self-denial he returned quietly to 
Europe, and having made his way to Liverpool medi- 
tated anxiously as to the best means of getting back to his 
El Dorado. After much thought no scheme presented itself 
which promised to aflford pleasanter society, or to involve 
so little personal expense, as a berth in a convict ship ; he 
therefore committed a forgery, and in this way luckily 
booked his passage at once. 

I do not know whether anybody thought of asking him 
what course he had intended to pursue in case a stupid 
jury had found him innocent, but, anyhow, the inventor 
of this farrago of falsehood was taken on board a vessel, 
and carried to that part of the coast which he had named 
as the promised land. He was then landed under guard, 
and requested to point out the exact spot where he had 
seen the gold, which he did with great precision. His 
intentions to escape now became so apparent, that he was 
tied to a tree whilst the rest of the party dug and searched 
On their finding no gold he bethought him, of a sudden, 
that he must have made a mistake, and " prospected *' 
copper instead; had he said brass, it would have been 



Digitized by 



G o i» gk - „ 



344 SKETCHES IN WESTEBN AUSTRALIA. 

more to the purpose, but that would have been too much 
like telling the truth ; it is needless to add that beneath 
this geologist's auspices was found neither copper nor 
gold. 

Nevertheless, a convict's autobiography was not always 
entirely untrue, though his manner of relating it might 
be absurd. We met with one man who commenced the 
history of his misfortunes by saying that " he had been 
always much addicted to the sharpening of a knife," and 
that, having been engaged in this favourite pursuit and in 
a quarrel with his wife at the same time, she had called 
in the police, and had sworn that he had tried to cut her 
throat. In consequence of this asseveration on her part, 
and of the belief accorded to her assertions, he had been 
condemned to transportation for a lengthened period. 

That this love of improving his cutlery could be the 
sole cause of the condition that he was then in appeared 
to us very improbable, but we had afterwards reason to 
think that there might be some grains of truth in the 
tale. In compliance with his request that his wife should 
be told how anxious he was to treat her kindly, if she 
would consent to join him with their child, and of his 
hopes that they might " turn over a new leaf" and live 
happily together, we wrote to our own friends upon the 
subject, and through their means the woman's whereabouts 
was discovered, but the tidings were discouraging; the 
woman showed no disposition to return to her husband ; 
her character was very bad, and, to quote the account sent 
to us, " the general impression amongst her neighbours 
was that her misconduct had excited him to commit the 
crime for which be had been pimished." It was sad to 



Digitized 



by Google 



CONVICTS AT CRURCK 345 

give the poor man no better news, but possibly the " new 
leaf" which such a woman would have turned over in 
Western Australia would have been an infinitely worse 
page than any that had preceded it. 

On Sundays the inmates of the convict dep6t were 
marched once a day to church, where, sitting on the 
benches especially appropriated to their use, and wearing 
their best suit of white arrow-marked jackets, they offered 
a painful spectacle, looking like Crown serfs, or a modem 
type of persons " put to open penance " before the congre- 
gation. When seen apart from his fellows a convict's 
face bears often no peculiarly evil characteristics, but 
when many such are ranged together the countenances 
have I know not what of indescribable and oppressive, 
suggesting perhaps most forcibly the idea that their 
owners have run away from a criminal lunatic asylum ; 
an impression strengthened by the fact that the forehead 
is almost invariably low and retreating, even amongst the 
more intelligent of the men. 

To road parties that are stationed beyond easy walking 
distance from a church Sunday is distinguished from 
week days only by a cessation from work, unless a chap- 
lain rides out purposely to give the men a rebgious 
service. Even in the exemption from stone breaking on 
the Sunday the axiom holds good of there being no rule 
without an exception. We once pulled up our horse on a 
journey to ask for a draught of water at the camp of a 
road party beyond our own district, and, whilst supplying 
our want, the warder informed us that amongst his 
prisoners was a Jew, to whom, in consequence of his 
refusal to work on Saturdays, he had been instructed to 



Digitized 



by Google 



346 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

apportion a full day's labour every Sunday. The paim to 
the warder of desecrating the Christian day of rest was 
probably none the less from the fact of his being a 
Scotchman ; in his own words, the marking out of the 
Sunday tagk ^ made the blood run chill in his veins." 

At the time of our first acquaintance with Western 
Australia, the question of how the convicts in the road 
parties and country depfits should be furnished with 
religious instruction, did not appear to have come under 
the consideration of the Home Government. The two 
chief prisons at Fremantle and Perth were indeed supplied 
with chaplains specially appointed, whose entire duties 
lay within the prison walls, and as long as the men 
remained in either of these two jails all was as it should 
be — the chaplains possessed their legitimate position and 
authority, and the men were properly cared for, moreover 
the means existed of obtaining a salutary influence by 
private intercourse with each individual prisoner. 

But when the prisoners were sent away from Fremantle 
to the depots or road parties in the interior, the case was 
altered. No chaplains were oflScially employed solely as 
jail chaplains to the depots or road parties, although the 
men were just as much imder prison discipline and re- 
straint as their brethren in the " Establishment," and it is 
usually thought advisable that a clergyman employed in 
the care of prisoners still in confinement should be able to 
devote his attention to them exclusively, and should have 
no other employment. The strict attention to rule and 
method, the constant reference to prison regulations, the 
endless number of printed forms to be filled up daily, all 
of which things are matters of necessity in a prison, seem 



Digitized "by 



Google 



CHAPLAINS, 347 

out of place and burthensome to a clergyman employed 
in the charge of an ordinary coimtry parish. 

When the dep6ts were first established in various 
country towns, and road parties were sent out to work in 
the country districts, often at distances of twenty and 
thirty miles from the nearest church, the question as to 
the religious superintendence of the convicts seems, at 
first, to have escaped notice. The country chaplains had 
been accustomed to regard their flocks as being composed 
of three classes — the first of which consisted of the free 
settlers, the second of those convicts who had received 
their ticket-of-leave and become to a considerable extent 
free men, and the third comprising those who had served 
the full time of their sentence and become expirees. 

The original ground of the appointment of chaplains in 
the country districts was the dread felt by the settlers 
lest a large population of such manumitted prisoners 
should grow up around them, unwatched, imtaught, and 
uncared for; and it was chiefly from the hope that a 
resident clergyman might influence these liberated men, 
and strive to improve them, that parsonages and churches 
were built throughout the colony. The chaplains, natu- 
rally, looked upon the settlers and "freed men" as 
forming their true parishioners, aniregarded the convicts 
still under prison restraint, who were sent to the depots in 
their district, as a distinct and separate class, who were 
governed by rules and forms of which they knew nothing, 
and who ought to have special chaplains to take charge 
of them as long as they were under prison rule. 

To learn that three or four large road parties had been 
sent into his district gave a chaplain, in the earlier years 



Digitized 



by Google 



348 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

of transportation, much of the same sort of feeling with 
which his English brother would regard the quartering of 
a body of soldiers in his parish for a lengthened stay. 
The chaplains were willing to do all that lay in their 
power for these unfortunate men, such as lending them 
books, visiting them when ill, giving them a service on 
the Sunday when it was possible to pass near a road party 
on the way to one of their own churches, and so forth : 
but the generality of the country chaplains considered 
that their chief duties were towards the families of tlie 
settlers, and of the ticket-of-leave class, and that any- 
thing they could do for the unreleased convicts was of 
secondary importance in comparison. 

It is a pity that when the subject first began to acquire 
importance by the rapid increase in the number of road 
parties, and of the number of patients in the dep6t hos- 
pitals, the Home Government did not ask all the chaplains 
whether they would be willing, oflScially, to undertake fhe 
duties of vi>iting the road parties and depots if they were 
paid a small increase to their stipends, and were granted 
an allowance to enable them to keep a horse. Very few 
chaplains would have refused, probably not even one, and 
much unpleasant feeling and dissatisfaction would have 
been avoided. • 

Matters are now completely altered — the country chap- 
lains are now as thoroughly prison chaplains as their 
brother at the Fremantle prison, except indeed in point of 
income. They are now obliged to devote by far the 
greater part of their time to periodical visits to all the 
road parties in their district, of- some twenty miles by 
thirty, perhaps, in extent. The forms which they are 



Digitized 



by Google 



VISITING ROAD PARTIES. 849 

obliged to fill up are endless, and the good which they 
can hope to do to the men is infinitesimal, since they can 
scarcely ever see a man alone, or even make an attempt 
to win his confidence. 

The only way in which a convict can be induced to talk 

freely and honestly to his pastor is to see him alone in a 

room at the parsonage if possible, (not at the prison,) then 

to enter into conversation with him about indifferent 

matters until he has lost his prison tone of voice and 

manners, (which are as different as possible to his natural 

ones,) and, when at last he begins to speak like a man and 

not like a machine, it may be possible to do something 

with him. But neither at a depot nor in the camp of a 

road party can the chaplain see any of the men alone 

without considerable difficulty and parade, since at neither 

place is any special provision for that object thought 

necessary. If a prisoner should express a wish to speak 

to the clergyman alone he must name that desire to the 

warder, and the interview will take place "either in the 

warder's quarters or in the clerk's office if at the dep6t, 

or in the men's sleeping hut if in the bush. 

All these long rides, all this filling up of forms is a 
mere matter of outside regularity and respectability, and 
it is impossible for the chaplain to learn anything of the 
men's individual character thereby. The chaplain rides 
up, the warder summons the men — " Attention, get your 
books for service" — the short service is over, and the 
chaplain says to his congregation, of perhaps ten Protest- 
ants out of the sixteen men who may compose the party, 
*'Well, men, any wish to express, any question to ask?" 
" No, sir, except you could lend us some books." 



Digitized 



by Google 



850 SKETCHES IN WESTEBN AUSTRALIA. 

Now this request for books is a universal one, and it is 
bard to be sometimes obliged to refuse ; but what can a 
chaplain or a head warder do when he has no boohs to 
lend ? On one occasion a warder of our acquaintance was 
congratulating himself on having obtained a box of new 
books for his men, and was about to open his prize with 
eagerness. When he examined his treasures he found six 
* Mavor's Spelling,' four geography books, six copy-books, 
eight volumes of tracts, and two amusing tales for chil- 
dren. 

After the party has asked the chaplain any little 
favours, such as to get them a slate or a pencil, or a sheet 
of paper, the chaplain tells the warder to dismiss; the 
warder says, *" Attention, put back your books, break 
off;" the men yawn, and dawdle slowly back to their 
work, looking as dull and stolid as if they were about to 
expire of utter laziness. This is at a service on the week- 
day. It is curious to see the same party of men if the 
chaplain can* manage to give them a service on the 
Sunday. They seem really to enjoy it, especially the 
hymn or two which they join in singing. They consider 
it right and proper to have a service on that day, and 
they attend to what is said then in an orderly manner ; 
but to be compelled to come away from tbeir road making 
on a week-day in order to hear the chaplain read is what 
they hate, they seem to look upon it as a device to cheat 
them into being good, and are sulky and indignant 
accordingly. ^ 

Prayer, again, at morning and evening they do not 
seem to dislike when it is xead by the warder, but at any 
other time of the day they object to the introduction of 



Digitized 



by Google 



BOOKS AND SEBMONS. 351 

any religions service. For the loan of an amnsing book 
or two the convict constable will always be glad to under- 
take a walk of ten or twelve miles, and the warder of the 
party is equally glad to give him leave of absence for 
such a purpose. 

Bail way publications, Waverley novels and newspapers 
are devoured by the convicts, but they will not read 
religious books unless the pill is so well gilded by secular 
incident that it is swallowed for the sake of the tale ; and, 
sad though it may sound, it is nevertheless true, that a 
surer symptom there cannot be of a man being worse 
than his fellows than his asking a clergyman for any book 
of which the subject is solely religious. 

A ticketrof-leave man came once to our house to beg 
that he might be allowed a seat in church near the pulpit, 
on the plea of his being deaf, adding, " though if I only 
hear the text I can always tell what the sermon will be." 
Sermons, one would imagine, must have been superfluous 
to so well-informed a person, and, judging from his position 
as a convicted felon, it would appear that they had been 
useless also. 

As to the effect which is produced by convict servants 
upon the persontd comfort of masters and mistresses, it 
appeared to me that the trials undergone by heads of 
households from this cause in Western Australia often far 
exceeded the crosses and annoyances which were wont, as 
I have heard, in former days to beset West Indian owners 
of domestic slaves. There is no need to enlarge upon the 
risk which the settlers' children run of contamination 
from their fathers' labourers; and an anecdote that we 
heard from a neighbour, in whose family there had lately 



Digitized 



by Google 



352 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

occurred a change of servants, reminded us very much of 
the teaching imparted at the academy of the estimable 
Mr. Fagin. 

Our infprmant said that her boys had come racing 
into the house, in great glee, to tell her of the wonderful 
tricks that ^' the new man" had been showing them ; how 
he had abstracted a native's tobacco-pipe from the tight 
string round his bare arm where a native always sticki 
his pipe, "without his ever feeling him do it"; and how 
he had stolen a quantity of grapes from another man, 
"talking to him all the while he took them/' The 
boys thought " the new man " was as good as a conjuror, 
and the curiosity of their parents being excited by the 
report of so much talent they made inquiries as to the 
cause of their servant's transportation, which, by the way, 
it is not usual to do in hiring a convict, and learned, as 
my readers will probably have already anticipated, that he 
had been a London pickpocket 

With whatever regret the colonists might look forward 
to the time when contracts for " rations " would be amongst 
the things of the past, there is no doubt that towards the 
end of the transportation period the majority of them 
were heartily sick of the convicts. Some of the settlen 
candidly owned the mistake which they had committed in 
supposing that the colony could be benefited by the 
inmates of English jails, whilst others bitterly complained 
that Government had broken faith in discontinuing to 
send picked men only, such as had been brought out in 
the first ships; forgetting apparently that a better use 
might possibly be found for offenders who were not incor- 
rigible than transporting them. • 



Digitized 



by Google 



MECHANICAL BBIABEUS. 353 

An impression also seemed to be gradually gaining 
ground in the colony that the owners of farms could do 
their own work with the help of machinery more satis- 
factorily than with the assistance of town-bred thieves ; 
and a friend of ours, in whose house for many years past 
nine ticket-of-leaye men had daily sat down to dinner, had 
reduced the number of his retainers to two only before we 
returned to England, and hjwi bought a sort of mechanical 
Briareus which, guided by one of his sons, was cutting 
his wheat-fields, when we paid him our farewell visit, in 
place of the seven servitors dismissed. 



2 A 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 



354 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 



CHAPTER XV. 

Schools on the Irish system — Roman Catholic schools — Schoolmasters — 
Scholastic squabbles — Convict tutors — Difficulties to educated con- 
victs in earning livelihood — Festival of the Barladong Fair — Want 
of recreation — Silver mugs — Popular entertainment — "Paddle 
your own canoe" — Natives attracted to fair — Different costumes — 
Glass spears — Fights occasioned by betrothal and polygamy — Native 
laws respecting marriages — Sheep-shearers interrupted at dinner — 
Pitched battle in barley-field — Holding beard between teeth — 
Maop'a donkey — Khourabene in position of Mr. Swiveller — Ehouni- 
bene brings home wife — Legacy of brother's widow — Khourabene's 
past history as married man — His escape from policeman — Fimdly- 
aoquitted — Reasons for contracting additional marriage — First wife 
deputes making of dampers to second wife — Ladies^ quatrds — 
Khourabene and his wives — Khohrabene an outlaw — His aonfs 
lamentations. 

The education of children in Western Australia was 
carried on in what were called Government schools, quad 
National The teaching in the Goyemment schools was 
upon the Irish system in reference to the great number 
of Roman Catholic immigrants within the colony, whose 
children, it was supposed, would form the majority of the 
pupils. The concession thus made, of leaving out all 
distinctive religious instruction in the general course of 
education, met with as cold a reception abroad as it has 
done at home from those whom it was intended to please. 
The Roman Catholic clergy discouraged the children of 
their flock from attending any schools exceptmg those 
which had been established by themselves, and both 
priests and laity naturally felt aggrieved at having to 



Digitized 



by Google 



SCHOOLS. 355 

pay taxes for the maintenance of Protestant schools whilst 
supporting in addition the entire burden of their own. 

A great stimulus was given at the Government schools 
by the distribution of prizes twice a year, for the pur- 
chase of which an allowance was made of a shilling for 
each child, according to the average attendance. Also, 
whatever lines of distinction were drawn elsewhere between 
*the classes of bond and free, none existed within the 
school walls, where the children of convicts and colonists, 
attended together, sat upon the setme benches, and were 
treated in all respects alike. There was not any system 
of diocesan inspection of schools, and that of the Govern- 
ment had no home precedent, the Perth schoolmaster 
being permanently appointed as inspector of the schools 
of his fellow-masters, without any regard to the compara- 
tive value of his certificate and of theirs. 

The amount of education acquired at these Government 
schools varied somewhat with the efficiency of the instruc- 
tors who, in a struggling colony, must occasionally be 
such as it is possible to procure, rather than those really 
qualified to fill the situation. However, at the time of 
our arrival at Barladong, we found that the reputation 
which the climate of West Australia enjoys for checking 
incipient consumption had attracted thither, two years 
before, a schoolmaster, whose power of imparting know- 
ledge was equal to that of any person whom we had ever 
seen at the head of a National school in England. 

This painstaking gentleman, being under the impres- 
sion that the faculties of colonial children could be drawn 
out by the same means as had proved successful with 
their English contemporaries, commenced a course of 



Digitized 



by Google 



356 SKETCHES IN WESTERN A USTBALIA. 

"object" lessons; and in order to make them more inte- 
resting procured from home, at his own expense, little 
specimens of coke, " Wall's End," Kentish filberte, and 
many other productions of the land of their forefathers of 
which his AustraUan pupils were necessarily ignorant It 
unfortimately happened, however, that any method of 
instruction which appealed directly to the intelligence 
of the scholar was as great a novelty in Barladong as i^ 
would have been in some parts of England fifty years ago, 
and the local Conservatives, who had never before heard 
of such roads to learning as lessons on objecta, denounced 
them as sheer waste of time, devices of the master's own 
invention to save himself the trouble of teaching. 

These objections had but little weight with candid 
parents, who noticed the improvement of their children in 
spite of such unusual means of promoting it ; but in the 
small society of Barladong there were some to whom a 
schoolmaster of the only type that they had as yet seen 
brought profit of another kind, and who little relished 
the appearance amongst them of one whose education and 
refined manner seemed to challenge a respect which had 
not hitherto been accorded, in that place, to a member of 
his profession. The publicans gained nothing by him, f<ff 
he spent no money in drinking, and his thrift made him 
independent of the storekeepers, both of which classes 
had been used to consider that a schoolmaster was a 
creature habitually "out-at-elbows," who would thankfully 
receive payment in kind for posting up their books. 

A clamour, in which the self-interests of dififerent par- 
ties dovetailed, and in which each made a tool of the 
other, was accordingly raised against the schoolmaster, 



Digitized 



by Google 



SCHOLASTIC SQUABBLES, 357 

accusing him of indolence and inefficiency, and the Colo- 
nial Board of Education took advantage of the outcry to 
practise a little economy in issuing a completely new 
reading of the terms of the schoolmaster's appointment. 
He had been appointed in England to his post during the 
colonial secretaryship of the Duke of Newcastle, at a salary 
of one hundred and fifty pounds a year, with a free pas- 
sage to Australia on the same conditions as those on which 
the Government chaplains receive their passage-money, 
namely, that half the sum shall be refunded to Govern-, 
ment if they return to England before the expiration of 
three years. Ordinary minds had hitherto supposed that 
this stipulation was framed to prevent imposition upon 
the Government, but the new interpretation which was 
given to it by official intellect made it as clear as daylight 
that the appointment itself was good for three years only. 
It was therefore notified to the schoolmaster that, if he 
thought fit to retain his post beyond that period, he 
must content himseK with receiving i. payment of one 
hundred pounds a year only, instead of one hundred and 
fifty. 

In this case the schoolmaster's course clearly was to 
commence an action at law against the Colonial Board ; 
but to do so would have required a far greater simi than 
that which he sacrificed in resigning his situation. He 
shook off the dust of Barladong from his feet, and with 
his wife and family left the colony for Melbourne, pro- 
ceeding thither by the advice of my husband, who felt 
sure that such real abilities as a teacher, although low- 
rated in Western Australia, would be certain of apprecia- 
tion in Australia Felix. It was hard to be driven away, 



Digitized 



by Google 



358 SKETCHES IN WESTEBN AUSTBALIA. 

at the cost of all his little savings, from an appointm^t 
which he had receiyed as permanent, and it was also hard 
that those who had learned, to discern the merits of the 
master should be deprived of the benefit of them for their, 
children, but in a few weeks after reaching Melbourne he 
obtained the charge of a school so far superior both in 
importance and in remuneration to the one which he had 
left, that his enemies, in causing him to quit Western 
Australia, eventually proved his best friends. 

In the houses of settlers, who lived at a distance from 
any Government school, we sometimes found a convict 
engaged as tutor to the children and keeper of the farm 
accoxmts, but employment of this kind for those released 
prisoners who are capable of undertaking it is not so 
easily obtained by them as might be supposed. The 
truth is, that learning is of less value in a rough and but 
partially cleared country than a pair of hard hands, and 
the consequent diflBculty that an educated man of the 
bond class finds in earning mere bread is sometimes so 
great that even the victims of his dishonesty at home 
would perhaps feel satisfied that his punishment was pro- 
portioned to his offence, if they could see his struggle for 
a bare existence. There is great inequality in the penalty 
of transportation, and although it may be truly urged 
that the educated criminal deserves a heavier punishment 
than his illiterate neighbour, yet the fact remains the 
same, and whilst the former class of offender is some- 
times on the verge of starvation, the agricultural convict 
can become a landed proprietor on no worse conditions 
than those of being contented to work hard and to for- 
swear drink. 



Digitized 



by Google 



THE FAIB. 359 

Leaving the subject of schools and tutors, I shall now 
pass on to that of holidays and merry-makings. 

The chief festival season in our little town was the 
annual cattle-show and fair, which was held in the month 
of October, the time of year when the country was in its 
most beautiful dress and the weather most pleasant for 
travelling. The neighbouring settlers were in the habit 
of inviting their friends and relatives to gather around 
them during the fair week, and there was more gaiety and 
merriment in those few days than in all the rest of the 
year put together. 

On the Sunday the church was crowded, and our little 
choir generaUy got up an anthem in honour of the 
visitors. On the Monday the day was employed in pre- 
paring the pens and enclosures for the cattle-show, and in 
decorating the Mechanics' Hall with devices, made of 
everlastings and zamia leaves, in readiness for the forth- 
coming festivities whatever they might be. 

Sometimes a ball would be given by subscription among 
the principal settlers ; another year the attraction would 
be a fancy fair ; another season, perhaps, the hall would 
be taken up for a large tea-party, followed by a concert 
performed by the musical talent of the district, assisted 
by fidends from Perth and Fremantle. Whatever might 
be the amusement chosen there was always 8(yme kind of 
gathering, and the young people thought about it and 
talked about it for weeks beforehand, and vied with one 
another in the composition of elegant garlands and deco* 
rations for the walls of the building. 

On the Tuesday the cattle-show and fedr was held, fol- 
lowed by the annual meeting of the Agricultural Society, 



Digitized 



by Google 



360 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

and by a public dinner in the evening at one of the 
principal hotels. On the Wednesday everyone flocked to 
the race-course, where the contests seemed to afford &r 
more pleasure than is often created by the struggle 
between the high-bred animals at an English meeting, 
since everyone knows both the horses and the riders, 
and takes a deep interest in their success. The festivities 
are nominally over after the conclusion of the races, but 
the excitement has by this time risen to such a pitch 
that the remainder of the week is barely suflScient to cool 
it down, and no one thinks of returning into the beaten 
and monotonous track before Saturday night has passed. 

In these six days seemed to be concentrated all the 
amusement of the year, and the shepherds and labourers 
from the bush ferms, who could probably count every 
human face that they had seen for a year past, crowded 
into the town by scores, too often to return penniless after 
having spent a twelvemonth's wages in the tap-rooms of 
Barladong. There is no country in the world, I diould 
think, where ** Jack's dullness " is so excusable as West 
Australia if the old adage be true, for nowhere are there 
fewer means of recreation or amusement; in fact the 
labouring man, except perhaps at Perth, has literally no 
possible change of scene and companionship open to him, 
when wearied by long monotonous labour, except the 
public-house bar. 

A cotmtry must have arrived at a certain stage of pros- 
perity and wealth before any provision for public amuse- 
ments can be made, or a class of public entertainers can 
be expected to arise who would provide such amusements 
as a matter of business. Much, therefore, as one would 



Digitized 



by Google 



SILVER MUGS. 361 

rejoice to see concert-rooms, public gardens, circuses, and 
even theatres, if well conducted, established in Swan River 
to provide innocent recreations for the large number of 
convicts sent out from England, there seems no hope of 
anything of the sort occurring, and things must remain 
as they are until the colony grows richer. 

The principal feature in the fair was the show of horses, 
cattle, and sheep, prizes being given to the most success- 
ful exhibitors. One of our friends had won so many prize- 
cups that his children had not required the intervention 
of sponsors to supply them with silver mugs, since his 
sideboard was furnished with one apiece for the whole 
family. This, unfortunately, waa the case only when we 
first visited our friend, for before we left the colony the 
cups had been stolen by a convict. As long as a thief 
could find no means of disposing of such plunder all 
articles of plate and jewellery had been safe, and money 
alone had presented any temptation to the evil-disposed. 
When, however, two or three silversmiths and jewellers of 
the bond or expiree class had been allowed to open shops, 
in which gold or silver bullion was a legitimate trade pos- 
session, the case was altered, and the thief was tempted to 
resort to the melting-pot if he could manage to lay his 
hands upon anything of value. I do not mean to say that 
any of these tradesmen would knowingly have received 
stolen goods, as I am aware of no grounds whatever for 
such a suggestion ; what I wish to notice is that the thief 
now thought he had a chance of disposing of such property 
since it had become an article of daily sale and barter. 

A popular form of entertainment often practised at the 
feir, and borrowed from the Wesleyans, possessed the ad- 



Digitized 



by Google 



362 SKETCHES IN WESTERN A USTRALIA. 

vantage of combining the receipt of a fair sum of money 
for some local purpose with the pleasure of an eyening's 
amusement This was commonly known as a " tearmeet- 
ing," being a joint affair of wirie and converMoione^ where 
a certain number of ladies banded together to provide 
each a tea-tray, containing twelve cups and saucers, and 
cake in a like proportion. The china and eatables having 
been conveyed to a given spot, the doors were thrown 
open at an hour agreed upon beforehand, and, on the pay- 
ment of a fixed sum, usually one shilling, the public were 
admitted, for whom the ladies forthwith commenced pour- 
ing out tea. When this had continued a sufiBcient laigth 
of time the trays were cleared away, and speeches made, 
interspersed with singing. 

There was generally a " tea-meeting " on occasion of the 
fair, and, as I have already noticed, sometimes a ball, the 
discussions as to which hotel it should be held at out of 
four that our town boasted, or whether it should be held, 
not at a hotel at all but at " the Mechanics'," occupying 
as much time as a long parliamentary debate, with such 
frequent adjournments as sometimes to threaten the young 
people with a total postponement of their dance for an- 
other twelvemonth. 

The one week over, the curtain dropped on all gaiety, 
harmless or otherwise, and hard unremitting work had to 
begin afresh. An occasionetl wedding might have brokai 
through the sameness of the routine had the spot been 
anywhere else in the world's geography, but in five years 
not one marriage of persons belonging to the upper class 
occurred in our district. 

Sometimes the young people could not maintain the 



Digitized 



by Google 



"^ PADDLE TOUR OWN CANOE.'' 363 

perpetual struggle with dullness until the fair again came 
round, but begged for an intermediate excitement (like a 
relaxation in Lent) no matter what, nor how humdrum, 
only something that should vary the tedium of their one- 
coloured every-day life. It would then be proposed that 
a lecture should be giren, not that instruction of any kind 
was particularly wished for on its own account, but be- 
cause, if divided into two parts, it admitted of an amateur 
performance, vocal and instrumental, being introduced 
between them. 

At the close of one such entertainment an old colonist, 
who was member of the Honourable Council and a leader 
of the Wesleyan body, on the plea of thanking the 
lecturer, stood up to make a speech, when, instead of 
diverging into religion as was the general expectation, he 
launched out into political economy, probing the point 
on which most of his hearers were feeling very sore, " the 
withdrawal," as he expressed it, " of the convict element 
&om amongst us," meaning in plain English, that the 
colony was no longer to enjoy a large and increasing 
convict expenditure. Having got thus far, he took it for 
granted that his hearers would 6ksk him for the benefit of 
his advice, so assuming to himself the character of the 
god in the fable, and assigning to them the part of 
the man in the mud, he went on to say, " My nephew has 
been lately in England, and has brought back a song — 
8ne that I like, for it contains an idea;— it is called *I 
have paddled my own canoe/ That's what you have all 
got to do now, — as my nephew's song says — Paddle your 
own canoe ! " 

With the help of this quotation, falling back on it as 



Digitized 



by Google 



364 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

on a text whenever he did not quite know what to say 
next, the old colonist made a long and amusing speech, 
interspersed with anecdotes of his own early adrentures 
in the colony, but offered no suggestion as to the best, or 
indeed any means of "paddling" beyond propoimding 
that if somebody could find rock oil, or as he expressed it 
" find an oil mine," it would be a good thing. However, 
the discourse was deferentially listened to, on account of 
the speaker's position, which was a very substantial one, 
and when he sat down the nephew good-naturedly re- 
sponded to the call for the song to which such frequent 
reference had been made. 

The attraction of the fair, but especially that of the 
races, never failed to fill the town with natives, who always 
congregated to merry-makings of any kind whatsoever, 
and E^ourabene used to extort promises from us, months 
beforehand, of being granted various articles of tlress, in 
which he might make a becoming appearance upon the 
race-ground. Neither was it for the white people only 
that the fair was an occasion for a dance ; the natives 
must also have their ball or " corobbery," the dressing for 
which is quite as important a business to them as the 
preparations for a presentation at court would be to any 
lady or gentleman at home, only that the style is left to 
the discretion of the guests, and no one is limited to any 
costume in particular. The greatest amoimt of fancy is 
shown in the arrangement of the hair, which is adorned 
with emu's or cockatoo's feathers, or bound ronnd the 
temples with the yellow tail of a wild dog, or with any- 
thing in fact that is thought to have a suitable and dis- 
tinguished effect. 



Digitized 



by Google 



GLASS RAZOB. 365 

Bunches of scarlet feathers are often fastened on the 
Apper part of the arm like a pair of short sleeves, and a 
defiant look is given to the countenance by sticking a 
smooth white bone, the length of a quill pen, through a 
hole in the cartilage of the nose, just as a careful hen wife 
will run a feather through the beak of a fowl that persists 
in sitting at an inexpedient time. 

On one occasion Khourabene affected a pointed beard 
in the style of Louis Napoleon, having shaved off his 
whiskers in the most faultless manner with a piece of 
glass ; he next proceeded to cover his head with a shock 
of minute ringlets, using the stem of a tobacco-pipe as a 
substitute for curling-irons. 

Warlike accoutrements are, of course, as much de 
rigueur at a " corobbery " as a sword in court dress, and 
the weapons in which most pride seemed to be taken were 
the formidable " glass spears," so called because they are 
armed for about the length of a foot with small bits of 
broken glass stuck firmly to the shaft with the resin 
of the Xanthorrhoea. In former days these spears were 
armed with sharp fragments of quartz, the glass being an 
improvement dating from the arrival of the English, and 
the consequent strewing of the country with broken bottles, 
These last, beside being useful for arming spears and for 
shaving purposes, are employed by the natives in cutting 
deep decorative wounds several inches long upon their 
shoulders and chests which, when healed into wide-seamed 
scars, are highly prized as personal improvements, and 
certainly have this one advantage over all removable orna- 
ments that they are not affected by the native rules for 
exchange of portable property. Both men and women were 



Digitized 



by Google 



366 SKETCHES IN' WESTERN ^ USTRALIA. 

embellished in this maimer, and I believe that the orna- 
mental process takes place in early youth. My husband 
used to say that these scars reminded him of the self- 
inflicted wounds of the priests of Baal, who " cut them- 
selves after their manner with knives and lancets" in 
honour of their god* ■ 

" Oorobberies " end with fights more frequently than 
not> for which, were all other causes lacking, the native 
customs of betrothal and polygamy would alone afford 
plentiful excuses. There is the mariage de oonvenanee, 
and the marriage by entail, and there is the runaway 
marriage which is the most illustrious of alL The first is 
a family arrangement between the parents in which the 
parties most interested have no voice, though they render 
their lives forfeit if they do not carry out the domestic 
contract. 

A settler told me that he and his wife had had a native 
girl in their service for two years, when one day her 
a£Sanced husband appeared at the door to claim his bride. 
It seemed a very matter-of-fact business, and scarcely a 
word passed between them ; she did not show any wish 
to leave her place, nor any partiality for the bridegroom, 
and, in the words of my informant, " the two walked away 
together as sulky as bears." 

After marrying his betrothed the man is at liberty to 
increase his number of wives if he can; but, unless he 
becomes the heir of a deceased relation, each fresh alli- 
ance must be one of theft, both the girls and women 
being all either married or betrothed and therefore the 
legal property of somebody or other from their earliest 
youth. However, as nothing tends so much to raise a 



Digitized 



by Google 



BINHEB INTERRUPTED, 367 

native's own opinion of himseK as the stealing of a wife, 
aboriginal society is in a permaneut state of broil, whereby 
the peace and quiet of white people is sometimes disturbed 
in a most unexpected manner. 

The wife of a small farmer told, me that whilst pre- 
siding at her sheep-shearing dinner the house door sud- 
denly flew open, and a native stalked in, dragging after 
him Jiis recaptured wife by the hair of her head. Several 
other natives trooped in behind, apparently as spectators, 
for none of them seemed disposed to rescue the unfortu- 
nate woman. The mistress of the house, however, played 
the part of good "Sister Anne," and, hustling the wife 
from the clutches of the black Bluebeard, pushed her into 
an inner room, the door of which she defied him to enter. 

Another time, a neighbour of ours, on looking out of 
his window, espied a fight going on in his standing barley 
— hylies were flying, and the combatants had cranmied 
their beards into their mouths in true martial fashion. 
Our friend hastened to the spot to save what remained of 
his crop, and his acrimony against trespassers in general 
was not diminished by the alighting in his own leg of a 
spear which had been aimed at one of the combatants. His 
wife ran gallantly to his assistance with their gun, but as 
it proved to be unloaded, she did not effect much by her 
good-will. 

The cause of the quarrel proved to be that their own 
native servant had stolen another native's wife, and the 
barley-field had been selected to settle the matter in, not 
from personal malice to the owner, but simply because 
the place was convenient. The same might be said of a 
good many historical battle-fields. 



Digitized 



by Google 



868 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA, 

The holding of the beard between the teeth is as re- 
gular a preliminary before beginning to fight, amongst 
natives, as the taking off of a coat might be with EInglish 
people, and I have read of a hUl tribe in India who follow 
the same fashion. 

I do not know in what light the women regard their 
abduction; they are often, no doubt, consenting parties, 
and at other times, perhaps, their feelings resemble those 
of the donkey in .^op's fable. That sagacious animal, 
it may be remembered, showed no anxiety to escape from 
the pursuing enemy, who could not, he was convinced, 
load his back with heavier pack-saddles than had already 
been laid on it by his own master. 

The first instance that we met with of wife-inheritance 
was when one day Khourabene marched up proudly to 
our door, holding by the hand a little girl of five years 
old, weU wrapped up in furs, with a string of blue beads 
round her throat. He introduced her to us with a beam- 
ing smile as his little "Gorda," or sweetheart, and ex- 
plained that she had originally been betrothed to his 
cousin, who had lately died, and to whose property in her 
as a future wife he had succeeded as heir-at-law. In fact, 
his position was precisely that of Mr. SwiveUer with a 
young lady " saving up " for him. " Gorda's " education 
was in the meantime entrusted to an old native lady, from 
whose hands Khourabene had borrowed her for the day 
that we might see the chattel which his relation had be- 
queathed to him. He seemed to have very correct ideas 
as to the propriety of making his betrothed bride a pre- 
sent, and asked my husband to give him sixpence that 
he might buy her a whistle. 



Digitized 



by Google 



KHOURABENE BRINGS HOME WIFE. 369 

Some weeks afterwards Khourabene entered our kitchen 
followed by a very ugly woman who looked a good deal 
older than himseK, and whom he introduced to us a« 
his wife Sarah. I asked him what had become of his 
little "Grorda," and he said that he had made over his 
right in her to another relation, and 1 fancy that Sarah 
must have been thrown into the bargain as a sort of 
make-weight. I looked the bride over to see what fea- 
ture I could compliment, and was able, with truth, to 
praise her small]hands and feet. She was a poor depressed- 
looking thing, but raised her eyes with a faint pleased 
smile on hearing what I said. However, Khourabene 
seemed quite proud of her, and though my suflfrages were 
gratifying they evidently were not needed to increase 
his admiration. 

The word " settled," which has become a sort of collo- 
quial synonym for married life with us, does not at all 
apply to that estate amongst natives* The passion for 
roving, as I have already said, is stronger in the women 
than the men; so that natives with wives are far less 
desirable as servants than those who are single. Poor old 
Sarah, however, seemed no great gadabout, and eveiy- 
thing might have gone on comfortably, only that just 
about this time Khourabene came in for another legacy 
in the shape of a second wife. This was his brother s 
widow^whom, by native customs, he inherited as if she 
had been an estate, with the liberty of cutting oflf the 
entai^ if he thought good, by bestowing the property 
upon another native, a privilege of which my husband 
earnestly begged the heir to avail himseK, as we knew 
that the widow was a good-for-nothing creature, and 

2 B 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 



370 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

Khourabene's history as a married man had not hitherto 
been so fortunate as that he could afford to run any more 
risks. 

His first wife had given him reasonable ground for a 
divorce and he had obtained one by the native rule of 
8t)earing her; if he had not done so, he would have in- 
fringed his country's laws, but by his obedience to them, 
he laid himself open to the penalties of our code. The 
colonial Government has, naturally, proscribed all native 
customs which involve homicide, and,, a police-warrant 
being issued for his apprehension, Khourabene could 
evade it only by hiding himself in the bush. At the end 
of two years he was captured ; but it is difficult to find 
handcuffs that shall fit aboriginal wrists, and Khourabene 
slipped himself loose when the policeman who had appre- 
hended him lay down to sleep under a tree, doing so, no 
doubt, with a safe conscience, as he had not only manacled 
the prisonel-, but had also fastened him to himself with a 
chain. 

The eyes of our wily friend twinkled with fun as he de- 
scribed to us his cautious lifting of the links, and the 
manner in which he had tickled the face of his snoring 
captor with a bit of grass to make him move into a ccHi- 
venient position whilst he worked his own release; so 
confident too was he in his noiseless tread, and in the 
soundness of the enemy's sleep, that on second thoughts 
he even risked a return to the same spot, after he had 
freed himself, in order to secure a loaf of bread frgm the 
policeman's wallet. 

Some time afterwards Khourabene was again caught, 
and carried down to Perth to take his trial, but the ease 



Digitized 



by Google 



MORE WIVES THAN ONE. 371 

was dismissed, either for want of evidence, or as he him- 
self believed, because he had "done the state some 
service" in preventing the escape of another prisoner. 
No past experience, however, could induce Khourabene to 
forego the increased importance that he would gain in 
the eyes of other natives by the possession of two wives, 
though, perhaps, it is a want of charity to disbelieve his 
own assertion that he " must marry PoUy " to ensure her 
being treated kindly. " Another black feUow," as he said 
to me, " would beat her if she lost his pipe." 

I was vexed at the introduction of this second wife on 
Sarah's account, for, though she made no complaints, no- 
thing wiU ever persuade me that any woman, though a 
Mahommedan or a savage, who has once been " the better 
half," is otherwise than chagrined at becoming a third or 
quarter partner in the matrimonial firm. 

The manner, however, in which human beings receive 
the unavoidable circumstances of their lot varies with the 
disposition of the individual. A native man and his one 
wife had worked together so long and so harmoniously 
for a friend of ours that he had ceased to remember 
polygamy as one of their national institutions, and felt 
himseK rudely recalled to consciousness of its existence 
by the return of his man-servant from a short absence, 
carrying a young native girl upon his back, whom he 
deposited amidst the family circle, and formally introduced 
as his spouse number two. • 

Our friend, much disturbed at the incident, remonstrated 
against such unworthy treatment of the first good old 
partner, but receiving no other answer than the repeated 
assurance — "new womany quorW — meaning that an 



Digitized 



by Google 



372 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

additional wife .was a good thing, he appealed, in per- 
plexity, to the elder wife herself (as if, poor soul, she had 
had any voice in the matter!) and was more than ever 
taken aback by the coldness with which that lady heard 
his condolences. " Let her come !" said the original mis- 
tress of the hearth, waving off sympathy with a contemp- 
tuous air ; " let her come — ske'U do to make the damper!'^ 
Whether in this particular instance the baking of dampers 
by the second wife helped to extinguish family feuds I 
never heard, but judging from what we saw of other 
cases I should imagine that the contrary was to be ex- 
pected. 

In the presence of white people one native wife will 
sometimes content herself with making faces and shaking 
her fist at the other behind her back, but these demon- 
strations are mere amenities when compared to a real and 
serious quarrel, fought out with the long wands which the 
women habitually carry, (as the men their spears,) and 
which, in action, they handle like the English quarter- 
staff. In one such duel,* which was described to me by 
an eye-witness, one of the women dropped dead upon the 
spot. 

Khourabene's wives, however, being hardened women of 
the world, and too wise to quarrel, found a common bond 
of union in making him a regular slave to them both. 
They played upon his love of flattery, (which he possessed 
to as gifeat an extent as if he had been highly civilized,) 
and by dint of calling him " fine gentleman feUow," and 
praising his kindness, persuaded him to fetch and carry 
for them like a dog. Though we always paid him in 
money they grudged his doing a day's work for us, and 



Digitized 



by Google 



KHO UBABENE AN UTLA W, 373 

were never contented unless he was escorting them hither 
and thither to this or that " corobbery." The last sight I 
had of him he was sitting on the ground, twisting scarlet 
worsted into fillets for the hair of these two baggages who 
stood by him overlooking lys work. They took no share 
in winding the worsted, but he had made himself indepen- 
dent of help by stretching the skein from the toe of his 
right foot to the thumb of his left hand. A few days 
afterwards we heard that Khourabene was again a fugi- 
tive, accompanied by Sarah only. The quondam widow, 
adorned in her becoming head-dress, had given him cause 
for jealousy, and he had speared her. 

We never saw our wild man again, though he some- 
times sent us secret messages, and would have paid us 
visits on dark nights if we had given him the least en- 
couragement, but to all hints of this kind we turned a deaf 
ear, lest by his venturing near the town he might fall into 
the hands of the law. We missed him sadly, and the 
place did not seem like itself without him ; it was some 
consolation that the police could not find him, and we 
earnestly hoped that they never might. His faults were 
those of a savage, and his virtues also ; neither was it our- 
selves only who regretted him. Natives are very kind 
to their aged relations, in fact Bishop Salvado goes so 
far as to say that if ever an Australian woman can be 
called happy, it is when she is old; and Ehourabene's 
outlawry was much deplored by his poor old 'toothless 
aunt, who would come creeping up to our fire, and 
dropping herself and her smoke-dried kangaroo skins 
down beside it in what looked a very homogeneous heap, 
would beg for a little list of excisable articles, tea, sugar. 



Digitized 



by Google 



374 SKETCHES IN WESTEBN AUSTRALIA. 

and tobacco, bemoaning with tears that her children were 
all dead, and now that '^her boy Ehourabene was run 
away, there was nobody to *look out'* for poor old 
Caroline." 

* Look out, in EDglisb, as spoken b^ the n&tivee, 1*8 the received eipree- 
sion for taking care of anjtliing. 



Digitized 



by Google 



THE « UGL Y D UCKJJNQy 375 



CHAPTER XVI. 

West Australia regarded as the "ugly duckling" by sister colonies — 
Contains, nevertheless, best timber in the world — Jarrah wood — Its 
indestructible nature — Blue gum — Formation of timber company 

— First railroad — York gum — Casuarina — Suitability of Jarrah for 
railway sleepers — Improvement of Cockbum Sound — Shingling of 
roofs — Sandalwood trade — Whale fisheries — Whaling almost mono- 
polized by Americans — Ball on board the whaler — Registrar's, state- 
ment of abundance of whales —The "gentleman from Tasmania" — 
Overland expedition to Adelaide —Incidents related by M. Rossel — 
Government geologist — Discovery of new pasture land — Tommy 
Winditch*8 announcement — Pearl fisheries — Ha wk's-bill turtles — 
Sponges — Western Australia viewed as a field for emigration — Neces- 
sity for raising loan — Manner of carrying on business in the colony 

— Influence of merchant-class : when and how injurious to a colony or 
beneficial to it — Instance of labourer desirous to clear land — Help 
from storekeeper — Reason of land being rented — Small farmers 
often little better than carriers — Clearing lease — Necessity for great 
Tariety of information — West Australia unattractive to large sheep- 
owners — Presents a different aspect to small capitalist — Prospects 
offered to the hard-working immigrant — Great preponderance of 
convict over free inhabitants — Antagonism between classes to be 
dreaded — Colony unsnited to persons possessing small fixed incomes — 
Storekeeping ten or twelve years ago — Expense of imported goods — 
Suitability of West Australia to labouring men and invalids. 

The foregoing pages were written from recollection of 
what Western Australia was when we left it two yettrs 
and a half ago, rather too short a period, perhaps, under 
ordinary circumstances, to effect much change in the 
existing state of an old country, but sufScient, in a colony 
as in a growing child, to produce a marked development 
of stature, and a great modification of feature. It cannot 
be said that the advance of West Australia has been very 



Digitized 



by Google 



376 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA, 

rapid in the interyal which I have mentioned, bat it has, 
nevertheless, showed signs of real progression, and, despite 
the unfavourable circumstances of its birth which, in 
nursery phraseology, have made it " backward on its feeC 
there are reasonable grounds for believing that it may, 
even yet, learn to run alone. 

The different members of the same household are some- 
times slow in recognizing the gifts and graces of each 
other, and Western Australia has long been regarded by 
the sister colonies of the great southern continent some- 
what as the **ugly duckling" of the family. I do not 
know whether these more successful neighbours have, as 
yet, revoked their opinion, but a fact, which has long been 
known to the friends of the unlucky fledgling, has at 
length received solid acknowledgment in Victoria, to wit, 
that the much-contemned colony of Swan Eiver contains, 
in inexhaustible quantities, the*best timber in the world. 

"Self-love and social" were long d^o pronounced by 
Pope as identical, and the truth is that the days appear 
to have gone by when the settler in any part of Australia 
can hope to make a fortune in a few years by the rapid 
increase of his flocks and the proceeds of bis wooL The 
fortunes of Australia, as a whole, can no longer be em- 
barked in one enterprise, and, as no country in the world, 
perhaps, possesses more varied resources than West Aus- 
tralia, the eyes of the neighbouring colonies naturally 
turn towards her in their desire to strike out for them- 
selves new and lucrative branches of industry. 

Now the one product of iimber alone will probably 
hereafter, more than make up for all the disadvantages 
under which Western Austmlia has suffered hitherta 



Digitized 



by Google 



TIMBER, 377 

Hundreds upon hundreds of square miles of her territory 
are coyered with forests of magnificent trees, many kinds 
of which are of great value to the house-carpenter, the 
machinist, and the ship-builder ; but none of them more 
pre-eminently important than that which, in common con- 
versation is called "native mahogany," ^^jarrah" in 
aboriginal language, and in scientific speech, '^ Eucalyptus 
marffinata.'* The qualities of this wood may even bear 
the palm when placed in rivalry with heart of oak. The 
white ant, the Teredo navalisy and the barnacle are all alike 
foiled by its powers of resistance, but its most striking cha- 
racteristic is, that it scarcely shows the slightest symptom 
of decay after being many years steeped in water. A log, 
which had formed part of an old bridge and had been 
seventeen years immersed, was exhibited in London in 
1862, one of its sides being planed and polished in order 
to show the slight extent to which it had deteriorated 
Although exposed to water for so long a period, and with 
three feet of its length sunk in mud, one inch alone was 
in a state that could have been described as less good 
than new. The harbour-master of Fremantle also drew 
attention in 1862 to the fact of two buoys otjarrah wood 
having been afloat in that port for eight years, and having 
needed no other repairs during that time than the supply 
of a few new iron hoops. 

The timber which ranks next in importance to the jar ra A, 
and is said, indeed, to be of nearly equal value to that 
wood for naval purposes, is another species of eucalyptus 
known to the colonists as Ihe blue gum, which, in the 
words of an old report on the statistics of Western Aus- 
tralia, "attains to a very considerable growth in many 



Digitized 



by Google 



378 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

parts of the country, and particularly on portions of the 
southern coast westward of King George*s Sound, where 
it is easDy accessible for shipping, and exceeds the size 
required for beams of the largest manof-war." The blue 
gum is said to be unfit for masts and spars on account 
of its great weight, although well adapted for machinery 
or planking of any kind, in which last capacity its im- 
mense length must offer great advantages, as it attains 
a straight growth of more than a hundred feet without 
knot or branch. 

The red gum, Euealyptus resinifera, furnishes also a hard 
close-grained timber fit for naval purposes, but its nu- 
merous " gum veins " render it unfit for outer planking. 
The same old report from which I have just quoted says 
that iron ox^rrodes very little either in the jarrah or the 
red and blue gums, but its author's recommendation of 
the blue gum for the upper works of men-of-war "on 
account of the impossibility of either splitting or splinter- 
ing it" was evidently given before turret ed ships and iron- 
clads had , been dreamed of, and it must wait to be ex- 
perimented upon until the day when, according to mari- 
time croakers, England will break up her metal fleets and 
once again defend herself with wooden walls. 

The time has arrived, however, when the boundless wealth 
of the West Australian forests shall no longer be pro- 
duced in vain, and since our return to England a number 
of persons belonging to Victoria, have enrolled them- 
selves under the name of the " West Australian Timber 
Company," to whom, in thd words of the Governor at 
the opening of the new Legislative Council at Perth in 
December, 1870, " Her Majesty's Government " have per- 



Digitized 



by Google 



"JAIiBAH'* WOOD. 379 

mitted him "to make very liberal and special conces- 
sions." His Excellency announced, in addition, that 
" another Melbourne company " had since asked conces- 
sions which it was also in his power to grant. 

The first-named company commenced its operations at 
G&)graphe Bay, whence they have already laid down a 
line of railway (as yet unique in the colony) stretching 
eleven miles into the interior as far as to their head 
station of Yokonup, which is situated in a dense forest of 
jarrah. At the elads of the line, which it was hoped 
would be formally opened by the Governor himself last 
June, townships are springing up under the respective 
names of Yokonup and Ijockville, and more than four 
thousand logs of wood, which had been previously con- 
tracted for, are said to have been lying ready last April, 
awaiting 'their transit on the arrival of the expected 
" locomotive " from Melbourne. . 

The jarrah has now become so completely the chief 
building timber in all parts of the colony, that other de- 
scriptions of wood have, perhaps, had scarcely a fair chance. 

The coachmakers and wheelwrights speak very highly 
of the merits of another of the eucalyptus tribe called the 
York gum. This timber is very hard and close-grained, 
and wheels made from it seem to stand the great drydess 
of the ktmosphere and the destructive effects of the rough 
bash roads remarkably welL I have heard of a pair of 
dray wheels which had been in constant use for more than 
four years without showing signs of any deterioration. I 
was also once shown a very* pretty gun-stock which had 
been made of York gum, and it seems to be likewise well 
suited for all kinds of millwright's work. 



Digitized 



by Google 



380 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

The casuarina, or shearoak, has been found yalnable to 
the cooper, as casks made from it have worn well, and 
given great satisfaction to buyers. But it is to the ^rroA 
forests that the colony must look for any really large and 
important timber trade, 

A commission of inquiry was held at Adelaide, a short 
time ago, for the purpose of investigating the real merits 
of Swan Biver mahogany, especially in connection with all 
descriptions of harbour works and piers, and it was then 
proved that, when properly felled and seasoned, the piles 
oijarrah are almost indestructible. 

In India, also, a large demand for both railway sleepers 
and telegraph posts of this wood will be certain to arise 
the moment that engineers can depend upon having their 
orders executed with certainty and dispatch. Hitherto 
the difficulties of bringing the logs to the shore, and then 
of putting them on boar^ ship, have been so great, that to 
load a vessel of eight or nine hundred tons with railway 
sleepers, has been a three months' work. Now that better 
prospects are opening, and that the Indian railway 
companies are aware that both energy and capital are 
embarked in the enterprise of developing this trade, there 
is every prospect that very large orders will reward the 
enterprise of the new timber companies. It was stated, 
on ofiBcial authority, a year ago, that, if such aff order 
could have been undertaken at that time, certain firms in 
India were desirous of contracting for upwards of one 
hundred and fifty thousand pounds worth oijarrah timber 
for immediate use. 

Should the proposal of carrying out a large ship jetty 
and other similar works at Cockbum Sound, so as to 



Digitized 



by Google 



SHINGLES OF SHEA-OAK, 381 

establish a coDvenient port there, be carried out, as there 
seems good reason to hope may be the case, (since this 
plan is earnestly recommended by Mr. Doyne, consulting 
engineer to the Governor,) every facility both for bringing 
the timber to the shore and for putting it on board ship 
would be afforded, and large orders could then be executed 
with rapidity and ease. 

The trees which I have mentioned by name are but a 
few out of a variety vast enough to render West Australia, 
in respect of woods, a perfect paradise to an enthusiastic 
lover of the turning-lathe. The two woods most in favour 
for turning are the sandalwood and raspberry jam, on 
account of their perfume, but the caswan'na, or shea-oak, 
deserves equal popularity, as it is a beautifully-marked 
wood, and capable of being worked down to a very thin 
edge. In this last respect, however, there is again no 
wood that can surpass the jarrah. Its grain is closer and 
firmer in texture than the Spanish mahogany, and it is a 
better wood for turning, that is, if a really fine log be 
chosen, such as was one out of which my husband turned 
a vase, the cup part of which was almost as thin as silver 
paper, without a symptom of the wood splintering or 
shaking. 

The principal use to which the casv>arina is applied is 
in the roofing of houses, for which purpose the wood is cut 
into long narrow pieces, called shingles, of the shape of 
slates or tiles; and as this kind of roofing is common 
throughout Australia, and an unlimited supply of camarina 
can be obtained in Swan River, the new timber companies 
will probably do a fair share of business in the depart- 
ment of shingling alone. To be '^ a shingle short " is a 



Digitized 



by Google 



382 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA, 

colonial phrase indicative of the same state of mind which 
is described in Scotland by the expression of " a bee in 
the bonnet." 

I have spoken, in one of the earlier chapters, of the 
sandalwood trade carried on with China. As long as a 
supply of trees of fair size and weight could be obtained 
within a hundred miles, or even a hundred and fifty miles 
of Perth, with facility, this article of commerce was of 
great assistance to the settlers, especially to the lower 
grade of farmers. It afforded occupation to their horses 
and carts at times when nothing else was doing, and 
enabled them to obtain supplies from the storekeepers by 
the barter of this wood without being forced to trespass 
upon the proceeds of their flocks or of their cornfields. 

During the dull season of the year they employed their 
teams to bring in the sandal logs which had been felled 
and trimmed in the recesses of the bush in the last few 
months by their woodcutters, and they usually found that 
a fairly steady demand for the sweet-scented wood, at the 
rate of 6Z. to 6Z. 10«. a ton, existed amongst the shippers 
and merchants at Perth. The usual price paid to the 
woodcutters in the bush, whether they were working fcff 
an employer or on their own account, seemed to be about 
25d. a ton. 

The value at Perth being what I have said, the only 
question to be considered was, whether the 5Z. or 47. 10«. a 
ton, (speaking roughly,) which they would have to receive 
as the difference, would be suflBcient to compensate them 
for the wear and tear of their horses and carts, and the 
food and wages of their carters. Moreover it must be 
remembered that the buyers at Perth did not pay. in cash. 



Digitized 



by Google 



SANDALWOOD TRADE, 383 

but only by an allowance in their books of equal amount 
to the wood supplied, and reckoned as a set-oflf against 
the stores supplied to them on account. 

As long as the distance from Perth was only forty or fifty 
miles the trade was a good one for all parties, and many 
of the smaller settlers were kept afloat by it alone ; their 
horses could do the journey to Perth and return again 
to the bush within the week, and, even if they obtained no 
back load in place of the sandalwood, the cost of the hay 
and corn (which they usually had to carry with them) 
and of the wagoners' wages was repaid, and a good profit 
remained. But now things are altered. All the sandal- 
trees of any size within a radius of a hundred miles of 
Perth have been cut down, and the woodmen must now 
go to much greater distances to obtain a supply of good 
logs. 

The supplies of food to the men who are cutting are 
rendered expensive by carriage out ; the wood when cut 
and trimmed has to be conveyed over mere bush tracks 
for perhaps thirty or forty miles before a well-made road 
is reached ; a team and wagon therefore, instead of return- 
ing from Perth for a fresh load within the week, is obliged 
to be absent a fortnight or even more, so that all the 
expenses are increased while the value of the wood remains 
the same. The truth is that the trade may now be said 
to have come pretty nearly to a stand-stilL The cost of 
carrying the sandalwood to Perth and of putting it on 
board ship now all but balances any profit to be made of 
it by sending it to China. 

Next to a trade in timber the whale fishery ought to be 
the most obvious source of wealth to Western Australia ; 



Digitized 



by Google 



384 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

and in 1846, when Bishop Salvado first landed in the 
colony, whaling had, as he says, brought large sums of 
money into it. But either through want of capital or 
of enterprise, or the lack of both combined, together with 
a dreamy reliance on the all-suflSciency of Government 
** contracts," the colonists, for many years past, hare con- 
tented themselves with merely fitting out boats intended 
to fish from the shore, instead of following the whales over 
the ocean in well-found Jships, like the Americans, so that 
now the capture of even one solitary fish is considered a 
very noteworthy occurrence. In the meantime the whale 
fishery par excellence has passed into the possession of the 
watchful Americans, whose ships the colonists have seen 
returning year by year with the utmost regularity, con- 
tented to buy of them the sperm oU, which ought to have 
been their own, whenever the alien fishers thought fit to 
dispose of it in Western Australia. 

I found that before the breaking out of the war between 
North and South which detained American sailors ujwn 
their own shores, the arrival of the Yankee whalers at 
a stated season had been quite looked forward to by 
the inhabitants of Bunbury and the Vasse, not only 
as a little break to the twelvemonth's uniformity, but 
also as a source of friendly intercourse and trading. 
One of our colonial acquaintances, who had a cattle 
station near Cape Naturaliste, told us that at one time a 
whaling captain was in the habit, on the expiration of his 
annual voyage, of leaving an empty ship's cask in her 
hands to be called for in the following year, by which 
time she was accustomed to have it filled for him with 
salted beef. The urbanities of life were also mingled 



Digitized 



by Google 



WHALING. 385 

with business, and a ball, given on board one of the 
temperance whalers and described to us as being ^' coffee 
and cakes all night long/' seemed to have been an epoch 
in the life of our acquaintance and her friend*?, whom 
the polite givers of the entertainment had brought from 
the shore in their own long boat. 

Amongst the signs which may now be noticed of a 
genertd wakening up of the West Australians is the fact 
that the Perth journalists are beginning to call attention 
to the whale fisheries, and to suggest that it might be as 
well if the colonists reaped the benefit of them for them- 
selves. That the htirvest would be an abundant one may 
be judged from the report of the colonial Registraiv 
Greneral, who states, in the census of 1870, that " from 
Camden Harbour in the north to the extreme boundaries 
of the colony on the southern coast, whales are to be found 
in great numbers, the right whales on the feeding grounds 
in the bays, and the sperm in large schools off the shore." 
The Begistrar also adds that ^American whale ships, 
engaged in sperm whaling, have taken, during the past 
two seasons, about four thousand barrels of oil, the value 
of which is from forty to fifty thousand pounds." After 
this statement it is consolatory to find, in the same report, 
that ^a gentleman from Tasmania" is about to establish 
himself at Albany, in Western Australia, in order to fit 
out a vessel from that port for whaling operations. 

Perhaps, however, no event of greater importance has 
occurred in the colony, since our return to England, than 
the carrying out of the long-desired wish that an exploring 
party should cross the territory, hitherto scarcely trodden 
by the foot of man, that lies between the settled districts 

2 



Digitized 



by Google 



386 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

of West and Sooth Australia. This formidable tract, for- 
merly called Nuyt's Land, better known at present under 
the name of the Great Australian Bight, has been sup- 
posed to be, and probably is, the most absolutely waterless 
portion of the surface of the earth. 

It was once before traversed by the intrepid Eyre, who 
followed the windings of the coast, imagining that if ri?ers 
existed at all he should thus make sure of falling in with 
them ; but never surely could greater aridity be conceived 
than that which it was his fate to encounter. His qpm- 
panions died beside him on the way, and he owed die 
preservation of his own life to the fidelity of a West 
Australian native, who had started with the party, and 
who carried him when too much exhausted to walk. By 
the time that the good native reached the abodes of civili- 
zation, with lus master on his shoulders, the two men had 
performed a journey of nearly seven hundred miles, with- 
out having seen the smallest rivulet in the course of their 
march. 

The present Governor of Western Australia conceived 
the happy expedient of sending out a party of explorers, 
who should be assisted by a vessel dispatched in the same 
direction and well supplied with food and water, with 
orders to meet the land travellers at certain points of the 
shore. In this manner the journey was imdertaken and 
performed by a party headed by Mr. Forrest who, after 
suffering some privations, arrived safely at Adelaide, and 
the winter having been a favourable one, the GrovemOT 
states in his speech, to which I have already referred, that 
the explorers " traversed a very large extent of the finest 
grass country, nearly destitute, however, of surface water." 



Digitized 



by Google 



NUYTS LAND, 38 

The possibility of crossing Nuyt's Land may therefore 
be considered as settled, although it remains to be seen 
whether, by the sinking of Artesian wells, the discovery 
can be made of any use beyond the very important pur- 
pose of establishing a line of telegraphic communication 
between the two colonies. 

M. Bossel relates, in his account of Admiral D'Entre- 
casteaux's survey of this arid coast, that a naturalist who ' 
accompanied the expedition went ashore on Nuyt's Land 
in search of curiosities, and straying too far was very near 
dying of thirst before he could rejoin his companions. 
Perhaps this French savant would afterwards have will- 
ingly subscribed to Shakespeare's opinion of the ^ uses 
of adversity," for he declared that the discovery which he 
made of a little stream of water, just as he had abandoned 
all hope of life, was strong testimony to his mind of the 
existence of God. 

To the three decided proofs of colonial progress which 
I have now enumerated in the formation of the timber 
company, in the establishment of a whaler at Albany, and 
in the success of the overland expedition to Adelaide, the 
appointment of a Government geologist, about a year ago, 
must be added as a fourth. Up to the time of our return 
to England in the commencement of 1869 the existence 
of gold in Western Australia had been only surmised as 
probable, from the ** minute specks " of it which, as I have 
said already, might be found in washing the sands in the 
beds of some of the water-courses^ and no very vigorous 
measures had as yet been taken for the discovery of the 
metal in greater quantities. A great anxiety, however, to 
^d gold had been aroused by the prospect of an ebbing 



Digitized 



by Google 



388 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

tide in the flow of Government money, and our last fare- 
wells on board ship were exchanged with those who were 
about to commence digging in earnest. 

The tidings which were brought by the last mail seemed 
fraught with greater probability of success than any which 
had preceded them. A tract of country to the eastward 
of Champion Bay, ** where the Silurian formation occupies 
a large area," and rocks are described as " precisely similar 
to the gold-bearing rocks of Victoria," is spoken of by the 
* Perth Inquirer' of April, 1871, as having been found by 
a little party who rode out for the purpose of inspecting 
(in company with the Government geologist) a locality 
from which a native had brought them some specimens of 
cinnabar. In consequence of their provisions ronning 
short, whilst yet within two or three days' journey of the 
mine which the native had spoken o^ the explorers turned 
back when they reached the longitude of 122° east; or 
about three hundred miles east of Champion Bay : having 
found such great abundance of grass and fresh water that 
their horses are said to have returned much fatter than 
they were when they set out 

Since this retrograde march, which occupied eight days^ 
the geologist, Mr. Brown, has retraced his steps in ord^ 
to make further examination of the country, and, in the 
meantime, whether the hopes that are entertained of gold 
prove deceitful or not, the opening of " fresh fields and 
pastures new," extending farther back from the sea-coast 
than any that have ever been previously discovered in the 
colony will, or ought to, console the seekers for want of 
the precious metal in case of disappointment 

Bituminous substances have long been known to exist 

/ 

Digitized by VjOOQIC ' 



PETROLEUM. 389 

in various parts of Western Australia, and it appears that 
the advice which the *Wesleyan Member of Council de- 
livered at the Barladong "tea-meeting" to look out for 
** an oil-mine/' has been wasted neither upon his fellow- 
colonists nor upon the aborigines. At this propitious 
moment, when the colonial Government is said to have 
been in communication with capitalists in neighbouring 
colonies who are desirous of establishing kerosene works, 
one Tommy Winditch, a native of Barladong, has come 
forward to report the existence of a substance '^ resembling 
water," at a spot about fifty miles eastward of Mount Stir- 
ling, where it is held in great dread by the natives on 
account of its explosive properties when brought in contact 
with fire. On being shown some kerosene Tommy Win- 
ditch pronounced it to be precisely similar to the ** white 
stuff" so much dreaded by his friends, and, should he 
prove to have spoken correctly, and the fluid be^ found in 
any great abundance,- we may surely expect to hear of his 
appointment as Commodore of those who, in accordance 
with the recommendation given to them, will henceforth 
'^ paddle their own canoe " in streams of petroleum. 

The pearl fisheries of Boebourne were beginning to 
assume importance before we quitted Western Australia, 
and recent investigations have proved that the oyster 
beds, first noticed by the French, are almost unlimited in 
extent and yield. Mother-of-pearl is therefore likely to 
become one of the principal exports, more especially as 
the shells are of the finest description, and obtain in con- 
sequence the highest price in the English market The 
Begistrar-General states that some of the last shipments 
realized ten guineas a hundredweight. The shells were 



Digitized 



by Google 



390 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALLL 

formerly collected only at low tide and in shallow water, 
but the -fishermen now employ natives and Malays ^ob 
divers, who bring up the mother-of-pearl from depths 
which have been hitherto considered inaccessible. 

It has been said that the natives thus engaged are much 
to be pitied for the treatment which they receive from the 
pearl fishers, and common sense would show that, amongst 
the rough class of men of whom many of the boats' crews 
are composed, the dark-skinned races are certain to be at 
great disadvantage, especially in a spot so far to the north, 
and consequently so remote from head-quarters. The 
season of pearl fiishing begins in November and continues 
imtil April. 

Tortoiseshell may also be procured in large quantities 
upon the north-west coast, as the hawk's-bill turtle 
abounds both there and upon the shores of the adjacent 
islands, but until lately it seems that people have not 
taken much trouble to collect it, owing to their ignorance 
of the value of such tortoiseshell in England. Since the 
announcement, however, issued by the Grovemment^ that 
the best shells are worth from sixteen to eighteen shillings 
a pound, the poor turtles will have had no lack of enemies. 
To these now well-known " treasures of the deep " I sus- 
pect that sponges might be added, for every heavy storm 
covers the Fremantle shore with so many different species 
of these zoophytes that it might reasonably be supposed 
that the sponges of commerce could also be obtained if 
search was made for them by dredging in a proper 
manner. 

Having now sketched some few and imperfect scenes 
of West Australian life, and given some outline of the 



Digitized 



by Google 



EMPLOYMENTS OF CAPITAL, 391 

resources which are offered by the colony, the question 
naturally arises as to what judgment I have formed of the 
coxmtry as a field for emigration. It is a difficult question 
to answer, since the prospects of the new-comer must 
depend so completely upon his own character and his own 
position in life. 

The man of capital and of enterprise will find but little 
scope for his energies at present, unless he be contented to 
work almost single-handed. The struggle merely to live 
has been so hard and so continuous, that but few amongst 
the settlers have acquired a sufficient amount of realized 
and superfluous capital to induce them to enter upon 
speculative pursuits, however promising they may appear. 
The timber trade, the whale fisheries, even the pearl 
fisheries if upon any but the most moderate scale, have 
hitherto been compelled to look to the other colonies or 
to England for the capital needed for their development 

The only joint-stock company formed for carrying out 
any public work of which I have heard since we left the 
colony, is one for the establishment of a telegraphic 
communication between Perth and Fremantle, a distance 
of fifteen miles. I believe that this company has suc- 
ceeded in obtaining the small amount of capital which it 
required, and that it hopes to extend its wires into the 
Eastern districts before the end of the present year ; but 
this instance of the Perth and Fremantle merchants 
having banded together to carry out a common object is 
almost a solitary one. 

With the exception of the West Australian Bank, 
which was formed on joint-stock principles many years 
ago and which has always paid excellent dividends, I do 



Digitized 



by Google 



392 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

not remember another instance of association of individnals 
for a public object. Harbours, breakwaters, piers, rafl- 
roads, tramways, steamboats, and diving api)aratu8 and 
bells for the pearl fisheries, have all been advocated in 
turn by the Perth and Fremantle newspapers ; but how- 
ever much the colonists may desire to witness the intro- 
duction of any or all of these improvements, they seem to 
look to Government action alone to carry them out. 

To raise a Grovemment loan, of a hundred or a hundred 
and fifty thousand pounds, to be expended upon public 
works, seems of late to be considered necessary, or at all 
events most desirable, by all parties in the colony. There 
can be no doubt that some measure of this nature must be 
adopted before long if any progress or improvement is 
desired or expected, and it would be but fair for the 
mother-country to aid her poor and struggling daughter 
in this matter by means of a guarantee, now that the 
Home Ck)vemment has commenced to diminish her expen- 
diture upon the convicts so rapidly. 

It should be remembered tiiat transportation to this 
colony was continued quite long enough to give the place 
a bad name with the rest of Australia, and to deter free 
emigrants of the better class from landing upon her shores. 
Now therefore, when by the fiat of the Home Grovem- 
ment, influenced by the outcry made by the Eastern 
and Southern settlements, the system has been finally 
abolished. Swan River, which was willing to carry out 
her engagement, has been placed at a considerable dis- 
advantage; left to struggle by herself against many 
obstacles, while she has been prevented from attracting 
a population of substantial settlers who might have had 



Digitized 



by Google 



MANNER OF CAEETINQ ON BUSINESS. 393 

both wealth enough and energy enough to develop her 
resources without asking for assistance from abroad. I do 
not niean to say that transportation alone has turned the 
stream of free emigration away from Western Australia, but 
only to assert that it has so far assisted to do so as to give 
the colony a claim to the sympathy and kind feeling of 
the English Grovemment now that she is left to fight her 
battle alone. 

The wealthy man or the capitalist, therefore, will not 
find much to attract him, nor many companions of his 
own class, should he visit Swan River. Perhaps the mer- 
chant or storekeeper with a small amount only of capital 
might do well, but this would depend entirely upon his cha- 
racter and his habits. Most of the successful storekeepers 
have been men who were brought up in the colony, and 
who know the position and prospects of almost everyone 
in it. So very large a portion of the business carried on 
is done upon credit that it is necessary to leave a large 
margin for bad debts, and to be careful as to the customers 
on the books. All this takes time and observation to learn, 
and renders it requisite for a new-comer to be cautions 
and distrustful of his own judgment at first starting. 
Then, again, many of the settlers have so long been 
accustomed to look upon some one or other of the store- 
keepers as their factor and banker combined, sending him 
all their wool and produce of every description and draw- 
ing money from him when they require any advances, that 
they are completely in his power, and dare not go to any 
newly-established store for fear of his anger ; thus much of 
the trade would-be out of the new-comer's reach, however 
low might be his prices for stores supplied, however high 



Digitized 



by Google 



394 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

the offers he might make for the purchase of colonial 
produce. 

In a remarkably well-written account of the colony 
which appeared in the * Melbourne Argus' a few years 
ago this point was entered into in some detail ; and it was 
there said that, as a general statement^ the country set- 
tlers were so much under the rule and influence of the 
chief storekeepers as to be scarcely free agents* No doubt 
this haa! been the case to a yery large extent^ but it is a 
species of misfortune which has affected other Australian 
colonies as well Queensland, especially^ has suffered 
from similar trials. And yet there is much to be said on 
behalf of the merchant class in this matter. It cannot 
be denied that it is injurious to a colony to &11 into a con- 
dition in which all the working capital of the country has 
been accumulated in the hands of the trading men only. 
Competition is checked, energy is stifled, and expansion is 
hindered by the aggregation of the whole buying power 
of a district in one or two hands. 

When the corn-grower, or the flock-owner, or the gum- 
collector is compelled by his own circumstances to dispose 
of his produce to one individual only, and to accept what- 
ever that person may choose to give as the price of his 
merchandise, he loses his independence and ceases to feel 
himself a free man. By degrees he gives up the hope of 
improving his position and contents himself with living on 
from day to day, sending to the store with which he is con* 
nected for as large an amount of supplies as the merchant 
is willing to furnish, and only too glad if, at the year's 
end, the balance against himself has not been increased 
This is the position in which a very large number of the 



Digitized by Google \ 



PROSPECTS OF LABOURING MEN. 396 

smaller settlers have stood for years. And yet it has been 
through the action of the storekeepers that a considerable 
portion of the settled country has been cleared and culti- 
vated, and without them much of the land which is now 
under tillage would be still wild buslu 

A poor but hard-working man has, perhaps, managed to 
saye money to the amount of one hundred pounds. He is 
anxious to establish himself in a home of his own and to 
purchase a few head of cattle, or a small flock of sheep, 
and also to clear and cultivate a few acres of land. If he 
hires a farm which has been already cleared and fenced 
(and many small places of this character will be offered to 
him if he is well known as a hard-working man), he will 
probably find the land nearly worn out by over-cropping, 
and the small run connected with the farm in poor condi- 
tion and insufficient for the stock which it will nominally 
support. 

If be is wise he will have nothing to do with an old 
cleared farm, but will take up a tillage lease from Govern- 
ment, upon the easy terms an account of which will be 
found in the Appendix. He must then commence his 
operations by building a rough bush house of perhaps a 
couple of rooms and an outhouse. Let him do this as 
cheaply as he can it will cost him both time and money, 
and the cost of his own provisions will have to be prepared 
for as well as the wages of the man or two he has hired 
to assist him. 

Next comes the clearing of his land, say twenty acres 
to begin with. Clearing alone will cost three pounds per 
acre if he hires men to do it and reserves himself for 
the fencing, which he will be wise to do if he is a fair 



Digitized 



by Google 



896 SKETCHES IN WESTERN A USTBALIA. 

bush carpenter. By the time that his house is built and 
his land cleared he will find that his hundred pounds is all 
spent^ and more than spent — ^he will be in debt Nothing 
will be left for stock, nothing for seed, nothing for food 
during the time that must elapse before his crops come in. 
It is in such cases that the storekeeper comes in with 
really valuable help, if only it be properly used. The 
man is known to be honest and hard-working. He goes to 
the store, before he commences to build or to clear his 
land, and mentions his prospects and his wishes, showing 
that he has some capital to begin with though not suffi- 
cient to start him without incurring debt 

It was in such cases as these that the sandalwood trade 
was such a help in the earlier days of the colony. The 
merchant, knowing his man, would perhaps say, ** I will 
supply you with rations for yourself and the man or two 
whom you must employ while your house is being built 
and your land cleared, — ^I will also pay one^half of the 
cost of a cart and horse for you, and you in return shall 
do a part of my sandalwood carting for me at a fixed price, 
and let me have a certain proportion of your crops eadi 
year until the debt is paid off." 

Now such help as this, although it must necessarily 
render the recipient dependent for a time upon him who 
has acted as his banker, gives a really honest laborioos 
man a far better chance of establishing himself than he 
could have had without it, and there are individuals in 
Western Australia now thriving and doing well whose 
present prosperous condition is not a little due to the hand 
of the friendly merchant who kept them from sinking in 
their first struggle for indepehdence. 



Digitized 



by Google 



REASON OF LAND BEING RENTED. 897 

But when the bargain is not fairly carried out — when 
the coBt of the help given is constantly asserted to have 
exceeded that of the seryice rendered in return^ the man 
and the horse become, and in no great length of time 
either, mere bond slaves at the beck of the storekeeper ; 
whose debt can at last be liquidated only by the seizure 
of the house and bit of land, the cost of building and 
clearing of which was the original cause of the two men 
entering into compact with one another. 

Instances of this character were of not unfrequent 
occurrence, and they seemed to us to account for a course 
of conduct on the part of many of the poorer class of 
settlers which had, at furst, seemed strange. Instead 
of taking advantage of the facilities offered them by 
Crovemment for acquiring homes of their own by clearing 
and building for themselves in the bush, men of this 
class, who had saved a little money, often preferred to 
pay a high rental to some of the large landowners for 
small and unproductive farms, which had been in cultiva- 
tion for years and were almost worn out. They seemed to 
think that it mattered not in the least whether the land 
was new or old, provided that it was cleared and ready for 
ploughing, and to believe that the rent would easily be paid 
out of the crops, which they expected to raise with the very 
roughest cultivation and without a particle of manure. 
They therefore laid out the money in their possession 
upon a couple of horses and a cart, and looked, not to 
their land, but to the sandalwood trade for their profits. 

If a man of this class happened to get hold of a small 
farm which had not been quite worked out, and was lucky 
enough also to have two or three good and fruitful seasons 



Digitized 



by Google 



398 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

in saccession, he did pretty well, and might make money 
if he was careful. His wheat paid his rent and found his 
family in bread, his barley and his hay kept his team of 
horses in good conditioa ; so that after he had ploughed 
and sown his own few fields he was able to spend, perhaps 
six or seven months of the year, in carting sandalwood for 
the merchants at Perth at a very fair rate of payment. 

As long as the seasons were favourable to him such a set- 
tler might go on comfortably and prosperously, Und pay his 
rent without much difficulty. But his position was always 
a very precarious one. If even but one or two bad harvests 
happened to come together his ruin became almost certain, 
because he had nothing to fall back upon, no sheep, no 
cattle, nothing but his few fields and his team of horses 
and cart. This has been one of the evils of the sandalwood 
trade. It has tempted men to look upon the possession of 
a wagon and three or four horses as a certain means of 
making money quickly ; the land has been cared for only 
for the sake of providing food for the team, it has therefore 
been only half attended to and half cultivated ; no stock 
(except a few pigs) has been kept because the man him- 
self has been obh'ged to spend the greatest part of his time 
upon the road to and from Perth carrying the sandalwood ; 
in short he Ims been a carrier much more than a farmer. 

It is easily seen that even one bad season must bring 
such a class of men into trouble, because in that case 
everything upon which they depend gives way together. 
Their wheat fails and with it their power to pay the rent ; 
the baxley and hay crops are deficient also, and thus the 
power of feeding the horses, and keeping them in con- 
dition for the heavy labour of the sandalwood trade^ goes 



Digitized 



by Google 



SMALL SETTLER IN DIFFICULTIES. 399 

too, and the poor creatures pine away for want of sufficient 
sustenance, until unable to earn for their masters the usual 
profits upon their labour. 

Sometimes a bad year will tell so heavily upon the 
horses as almost to put a stop to the sandalwood trade 
altogether, and, in letters which we have just received 
from the colony, we are told that this has been the case 
during the last few months. What can one of these 
small settlers do in such a position ? He has nothing to 
sell oflf his land, as his crops are scarcely enough for his 
own wants. How is he to pay his rent ? How is he to 
get seed for next year ? Only one course is open to him ; 
he must mortgage his team and his carts to the store- 
keeper who supplies him. 

When once this measure has been forced upon him a 
log is round his neck from which he will find it difficult 
to free himself, and, if he is not very careful and very 
hard-working, he will sooner or later find himself enslaved 
with far less chance of extrication than the man who, in 
the case of which we first spoke, became indebted for the 
assistance given him in clearing his own land and building 
his own house. The latter having no rent to pay for his 
farm can average one year with another, and make the 
good years balance the bad ; while the tenant of another 
person's land at a high fixed rental, though he may seem 
to have a better chance of making money just at firsts has 
not the comfort of looking forward to a time when, having 
paid off the advances made to him at starting, his land 
and house will have become his own ; a home for his wife 
and family for which no rent is ever to be paid, where he 
C€UQ live in comfort without fear of any notice to quit 



U\q\{\ze6'by 



Google 



400 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

being served on hiniy or of any landlord's agent interfering 
with his method of cropping his land. 

Another method of making a start in the world wliich 
was sometimes practised^ and for which the assistance of 
the merchant or the landowner would be invoked, was tiie 
following. The labourer would engage to clear a plot of 
land, to the extent of forty or fifty acres, at a certain 
number of acres each year, on condition that rations were 
supplied and other assistance given by the employer fw 
the first year or two, and that the whole of the land, as 
fiEust as it was cleared and fenced (the employer finding 
posts and rails) should be cultivated by the tenant for his 
. own profit iot a fixed number of years, rent free. In this 
case although the tenant had to turn out of the little 
farm, which he had cleared with his -own hands, at the 
expiration of perhaps ten years, still he had enjoyed the 
use of the greater peuii of the land in its fresh vigour, and 
the crops which he had taken off were probably the best 
it would ever produce. 

The merchant, then, who may think of carrying out 
a small capital to West Australia must be prepared to 
act in a variety of capacities, and to play the part not 
only of exporter and importer of goods, but also that of 
&ctor, agent, and banker to his customers; and very 
probably that of sheep-owner and squatter to a greater or 
less extent also, in cases where he may find it more to his 
interest to take into his own management the business 
and property of some of his larger debtors than to att^npt 
to realize the assets, on which he has the laigest claim, 
at a period probably of depression and panic 

To make money in this colony a man must leain to 



Digitized 



by Google 



NECESSITY FOR VARIED INFORMATION, 401 

understand all its products, all its various forms of 
employment, and must teach himself, by degrees, to be 
as much at home in the valuation of the flocks upon a 
sheep-run, the cattle upon a farm, or the trees in an acre 
of mahogany forest, as he is when engaged in the more 
legitimate calculations of a merchant's business, such as 
pricing silks and broadcloths from England and France, 
wines from Spain, or tesus and sugars from Singapore. It 
has been by this correctness of judgment in every branch 
of colonial business, and not by conflning their attention 
to any one class of speculation in particular, that the 
successful men have made their money in Swan Biver ; 
and what has been done by them may be done again by 
a new-comer if he goes to work in a similar msmner. 

Such, then, as far as we were able to form an opinion 
from our own observations and from the conversation of 
others better qualified to judge, are the capabilities of this 
colony with respect to trade and commerce. 

The natural products of Western Australia are nume- 
rous and valuable, and are, by degrees, obtaining a larger 
share of public attention than has hitherto been vondi- 
Bafed to them in the other Australian settlements. The 
capitalists of Sydney and Melbourne are beginning to 
inquire whether new fields for speculation are not to be 
found in the forests and the pearl banks of their Western 
sister, and it seems probable that, under the energetic 
rule of the present Governor, Mr. Weld, himself an old 
colonist of New 2iealand, every encouragement will be 
given to the enterprise and activity of all who may dedire 
to aid in the development of her resources. 

Want of capital has hitherto kept Swan Biver in the 

2 D 



Digitized 



by Google 



402 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

backgronndy and, if this want be supplied, it seems far from 
improbable that in the course of a few years more she 
may be able to prove, to those who have hitherto despised 
her, that though she cannot compete with New South 
Wales or Victoria as a wool-growing or cattle-raising 
country, she is nevertheless rich in some valuable pro^ 
ducts in which those colonies are deficient. 

To the wealthier class of settler, the owner of a hundred 
thousand sheep or fifty thousand head of cattle, West 
Australia would not seem to offer many attractiona The 
runs are upon a much smaller scale than those to which 
he has been accustomed, and he would probably consider 
the character of the trade carried on in the colony to be 
uninteresting and contracted, tending too much both to 
small profits and slow returns. But to the smaller daas of 
capitalist, who possesses only a thousand or fifteen hundred 
pounds, the country presents a different aspect He will 
find many small properties now in the market, and at a 
price within his reach, upon which he would have a feir 
prospect of doing well and making a comfortable home 
for his family. He must be ready to turn his attention 
to anything which seems likely to increase the profits of 
his farm, to set up a steam-mill, for instance, if the district 
seems to afford a fair opening, or to establish a store, if 
one appears to be wanted in his neighbourhood, or to take 
a share in a contract for horsing the mail cart in his part 
of the country if it seems likely to yield a return; he 
must not be content to sit still and to let others get ahead 
of him in the race for success, but must keep his eyes 
open and be ready to make the most of aU the openings 
which may fall in his way. 



Digitized 



by Google 



PROSPECTS OF HARD-WORKINQ MEN. 403 

It has been in this manner that all the settlers who 
haye really made money have acted, while those who have 
confined themselves strictly to farming and wool-growing, 
and attempted nothing else, have but seldom done more 
than JQst to keep their heads afloat. And now I must 
speak of the prospects offered to the immigrant who has 
nothing but his own hand^ and arms to trust to, the 
agricultural labourer or the artisan. 

I may say at once that any man who is steady, honest, 
and sober, and who is not a&aid of hard work, will have 
every prospect of doing well, and of raising himself to the 
]>osition of a small proprietor in the course of eight or ten 
years. The great objection to the colony in his case 
would be the necessity for associating with convict fellow- 
labom-ers. That this is a great drawback to the colony in 
the eyes of respectable immigrants it would be useless to 
deny. It is proved by the eagerness shown by the 
majority of them to leave ior Melbourne or Sydney as 
soon as they have saved sufficient money to carry them 
thither. 

The whole number of convicts landed in Swan Eiver, 
from the commencement of the system in 1851 up to its 
cessation in 1868, has been about ten thoustmd. Of this 
number many have died, some have left the colony, and 
others have become merged in the general population by 
the expiration of their sentences. According to the 
census of 1870 the number of men still under the charge 
of the authorities is about four thousand, including those 
still in confinement ; expirees being classed as &ee men. 

Now as the total population of the colony is only 
25,000, and that out of that number only 9300 are &ee 



Digitized 



by Google 



404 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

adult males oyer fifteen years of age^ it is easily seen that 
the very large majority of the labouring class must be 
either convicts or expirees. The fiEu^t is that almost all 
the labour of the colony is carried on by their hands. A 
few free immigrants are found, chiefly artisans, but the 
" Government men " are so decidedly in the majority that 
the whole mass of labour in the country takes its colour 
and tone from them, and the free man is looked upon as 
an interloper, a trespasser on their rights, and disliked 
accordingly. 

Here, perhaps, lies the great danger to the future of 
the colony. If anything should occur to cause an influx 
of free immigration, such as the dJscovjery of a valuable 
gold-field, the convict element would soon lose its predomi- 
nance and its influence amongst the labouring class, and 
a healthier state of things would arise. Otherwise an 
antagonism between labourers and employers will con- 
tinue to exist, (for the children of the convict parents will 
always be kept at arms' length by the free settlers,) which 
may have bad effects in any period of distress or pressure^ 
such as a series of deficient harvests for instance, and may 
lead to mischief^ as a similar state of things has done in 
Tasmania. 

There are, however, many situations in which the free 
labourer would not be exposed to that association with 
the convict class to which he seems to be so averse, and 
I cannot but think that the feeling against Swan Biver 
on this account is an exaggerated ona To whatever land 
the emigrant may turn his steps he will find that in the 
earlier portions of his career he will meet with rough and 
distasteful companionship, probably quite as disagreeable 



Digitized 



by Google 



CLASSES TO WEOM COLONY IS UNSUITED, 405 

to him, as an untravelled EnglishmaB, as the better class 
of convict, with whom he has at least the common ground 
of speaking the same language and haying lived in the 
same country when at home. The American "rowdy," 
the New Orleans gambler, the San Francisco free-fighter, 
or the Chinese miner of Victoria, would, no doubt, prove 
quite as unsuited to his home-country feelings as even the 
Swan Eiver expiree. 

The quiet hard-working man whose chief ambition is to 
establish himself in a little farm of his own with his wife 
and family around him, and who is willing to accept the 
position of shepherd to one of the larger settlers for a few 
years, may soon save money ; and, in the course of five 
or six years, may hope to fiud himself able to start on his 
own account, with every prospect of doing well and 
becoming a small landowner. 

The class to whom the colony is least of all suited 
would seem to be those who are dependent solely upon 
a small fixed income, such as the chaplains of the Church 
of England, the ministers of the various non-conforming 
denominations, the lower grades of the Government 
officials, and the country schoolmasters and mistresses in 
Gk)vemment employ. Their incomes are very small com- 
pared with the expenditure absolutely necessary for the 
maintenance of themselves and their families in a position 
of respectability, while, unlike the settlers in general, 
they are unable to pay for any of the goods supplied to 
them by the barter or exchange of their own produce, 
(since they do not possess any land or stock,) but are 
obliged to settle all their bills by cheques upon their 
banker. No one who has not had personal experience of this 



Digitized 



by Google 



406 SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

state of things can form any right judgment of the whole 
system. In Perth or Fremantle so many of the rodents 
are in Government employ that payments in money are 
far more frequent than in the country districts, and prices 
are, in consequence, far lower than in the little inland 
towns. Moreoyer eyen in the inland districts competition 
has arisen during the last few years, and new stores hare 
been established wherever there appeared to be a good 
opening, so that prices have been considerably lowered in 
comparison to what they were ten or twelve years ago. 
At that date the storekeeper in each country district 
enjoyed a virtual monopoly. His prices were fixed, not 
so much by any consideration of the actual cost of his 
goods to himself, as by the distance of his nearest com- 
petitor and the amount of profit which that competitor 
was charging. 

From eighty to a hundred per cent, upon the larger 
and heavier goods, up to even a hundred and fifty per 
cent, upon smaller articles, was commonly charged, as 
profit upon the London invoices, in the country stores, 
so that he who had nothing to ofier in exchange, but was 
obliged to pay in money for all his supplies, soon found 
his store bills run up in a manner which his fixed income 
as a Government employe was by no means calculated to 
meet. In short I think that all those who have ever lived 
for a few years in the country districts in Western Aus- 
tralia will agree with me in saying that it is by no means 
a colony in which a small fixed income, such as the two 
hundred or two hundred and fifty a year received by the 
chaplains, can be depended upon to procure anything 
more than the very barest necessaries of life. 



Digitized 



by Google 



SmT ABILITY OF WEST AUSTRALIA TO INVALIDS. 407 

To the labouring man, to the settler with moderate 
apital, or to the merchant, Swan River ofifers fair pros- 
pects of success, but to those who possess merely education 
without money to back up their acquirements, to the 
clergyman, the banker's clerk, the struggling and disap- 
pointed man of business for whom competition has been 
too severe at home, to such as these the colony is unsuited, 
and they would have a far better chance of eventually 
doing well in England. 

Of the value of the colony as a settlement within easy 
reach of India, and admirably suited for the establishment 
of a Sanitarium for our troops, much has been said and 
written, and it is to be hoped, in the course of time, these 
discussions may bear their legitimate fruit. 

In conclusion, I will only add that if I were asked what 
I thought would benefit one whose lungs were weak but 
as yet undiseased, I should recommend a twelvemonth's 
visit to Western Australia as a probable means of averting 
consumption, but I should advise that the time was spent 
amongst the homes of the colonists in the bush rather than 
in the towns* A stranger would meet much hospitality in 
either place, but the same causes which render the petty 
provincial towns of England notorious for duUness and 
gossip exist in far greater force in the embryo cities of 
a colony, whilst the fact that the habits of life in vogue 
are framed after the English pattern brings more strik- 
ingly into notice the colonial backwardness of thought 
and education as compared with recollections of the mother- 
country. 

But life in the bush has an original character of its own, 
and although books are scarcer there than in the towns. 



Digitized 



by Google 



408 SKETCHES IN WESTEBN AUSTRALIA. 

yet, in consequence of the bush people making no pre- 
tence to book learning, their want of it never struck me 
as a painM deficiency. Their days are spent in employ- 
ments that have been the fayourite theme of poets from 
time immemorial, and no leisure is left them for discussing 
the doings of the next-door neighbour, even were there 
any such person Mrithin seven miles. 

Thus it would seem that Goethe's remedy against tlie 
evil of too many books is equally good in the case of 
having too few. In a pretty little letter of hexameters 
addressed to an anxious father, who is afraid that his 
girls* heads will be turned by reading too many works 
of fiction, (Joethe tells him (but I quote from memory 
only) that he may avert the calamity by giving each 
daughter her own little sphere of rule within his household. 
Let him consign to one of the girls the care of " the vine- 
yard and the cellar," to another "the kitchen and the 
herb garden," "the washhouse and the laundry" to a 
third, and " novelists," says the poet triumphantly, "/nay 
then write what they please, and the ladies be never the 
worse." Self-evident, however, as this conclusion un- 
doubtedly is, and multifarious as are the female employe 
ments on which the poet enlarges, the avocations of a 
bush lady are still more diversified. He quite omits to 
mention the care of the dairy and the live-stock, and, 
much as he loves to picture his ideal cook busying herself 
in consulting ^the family tastes, I will wager that he never 
dreamed of her having to prepare the meals of an orphan 
foal, still less of that juvenile quadruped coming in at 
the kitchen door to be fed. 

The seeker of health who can enjoy horse exercise wiU 



Digitized 



by Google 



AMUSEMENT IN B USE. 409 

never be at any loss for amusement in the bush, and if 
he happens to be fond of botany or entomology a whole 
world of pleasure will lie open there before him. As a 
bird collector he will find unfailing occupation, only he 
must take care that his ship's stores comprise a good 
supply of the best means of preserving his specimens, such 
as arsenical soap and appliances of a like nature, or many 
a trophy will be lost which otherwise might have embel- 
lished a glass case. In short, if the visitant be one who 
can find his chief amusement in the study of any of the 
various branches of natural history he will meet with 
ample food for his favourite fancy here, and will be 
obliged to allow that the despised penal colony, if not 
such an Eden as ^'blue-books'' have sometimes pictured 
it, is by no means wanting in quiet beauties and simple 
enjoyments; while, if health has been his main object, 
he may hope to carry back with him to his home in 
England such fresh supplies of strength as may enable 
him to contend victoriously with the uncertain climate 
of his mother-country, and cause him to remember with 
gratitude the elastic air and bright skies of West Aus- 
tralia. 



Appendix. 



Digitized 



by Google 



Digitized 



by Google 



( 411 ) 

APPENDIX. 



TABLE OF LAND REGULATIONS. 

Copied fbom the Repobt of the Reoistrab-General fob Westebn 
Australia, 1870. 

" Thk existing Land Begnlations were proclaimed in Angost, 
1864, and special Regulations for Mining Leases, and for the 
occupation of Land in the fioLr North and Eastern Districts in 
January, 1865. It is not necessary here to publish the Regu- 
lations in detail, but they may be shortly summarized." 

Sale of Croum Lands. 

*^ The Grown Lands are classified as Town, Suburban, Coun- 
try, and Mineral. 

''Town and Suburban Lands are sold by auction, at upset 
prices regulated by the Govemor. 

^ Ordinary Country Lands are sold, at the fixed price of 10«. 
per acre, to the first bond fide applicant for the same, in lots not 
less than 40 acres each. 

'' A deposit of one-tenth the purchase money is payable when 
the Land is applied for, and the balance within one month 
afterwards, with title-deed fee of 11, 

" Remissions granted to Military or Nayal OfOlcers and Men." 

Pastoral Land, 

'' For Pastoral purposes the Crown Lands are divided into 
Class A and Class B ; and in the North and East districts into 
Classes A and C. 

** Class A Lands are let for one year only, under Depasturing 
Licences. 



Digitized 



by Google 



412 APPENDIX. 

« Annnal Reot, 2b. per 100 acres, and no licence fee. 

*^ No Licence issued for less than 11, 

^ Full annual rent to be paid on application. 

'* Holders of Land in Fee Simple, of not less than 10 acres, 
within a Class A Licence, have a right to run gratuitoualj 
within such Licence one head of great stock for eyeiy 10 acres 
so held, and so long as said land may be let for Pastoral pur- 
poses. 

'' Lands in Glass B are situate outside of certain defined 
Boundaries, and are let on Pastoral Leases of eight years. 
These Leases are not renewable, but the Lessees thereof have 
a preferable claim for renewal. 

^ No Lease to contain more than 10,000 acres, but any num- 
ber of Leases may be granted to the same person. The annual 
rent for a Lease is 5Z., and 10^. per thousand acres for the land 
contained therein. 

^ Leases are granted without competition. 

" These Leases contain pre-emptiye rights of purohafie of any 
portion of the land (not less than 40 acres) during the first 
year. 

'* After the first year of a Lease, all unsold land is open to 
general selection for purchase. 

'* Homesteads may be selected by Lessee during the first year, 
at the rate of two acres for eyery acre of run, with a right of 
purchase of any part thereof within the first three years. 

'^ Purchasers of Lands within B Leases haye the same right 
of depasturing cattle as in Glass A Licences." 

Tillage Leases. 

^ Lands for Tillage purposes are let on Leases for eight years. 
No Lease to contain more than 820 acres. Any number of 
Leases may be granted to the same person. The annual rent is 
Is, per acre, payable in adyance, but no Lease is granted for a 
less sum than 5/., except for the last half of a year.*' 



Digitized 



by Google 



APPENDIX. 413 

North and East Districts. 

^ Lands in these Districts are disposed of on more liberal 
terms than in any other parts of Western Australia. 

'' The North District is comprised between the sea coast and 
the meridian of 120^ East longitude, and to the North of the 
River Murchison and of a true East line through Mount 
Murchison. 

^The East District is comprised between the meridians of 
121^ and 129° East longitude, and between the South coast and 
latitude 30° South. 

'' The Lands are divided into Class A for annual Licence, and 
Glass C for more extended occupation. Class A comprises all 
land within two miles of the sea coast, and Class C the re- 
mainder. The rent of Class A Lands is 5«. per 1000 acres for 
the first four years, and 10«. per 1000 acres for each of the 
second four years. 

^ Class C Lands are let on Pastoral Lease for eight years, 
commencing first of January next after application. 

'' The rents of Class C Leases are at the rate of 5«. per 1000 
acres for each of the first four years, and IQs, per 1000 acres for 
each of the second four years, with a fee of hi. at the commence- 
ment of each Lease, but not after the first year." 

Mineral Lands. 

^ Lands known or supposed to contain minerals are termed 
< Mineral Lands,' and are sold as such to the first applicant for 
the same, in lots of not less than 80 acres each, and at the fixed 
price of 3Z. per acre, payable by a deposit of 11. per acre at the 
time of application, and of a similar amount on the same date in 
each of the two following years." 

Licences to Test Mineral Lands. 

<< Any person desirous of testing the mineral qualities of land 
previously to purchase, may obtain a Mining Licence for one 



Digitized 



by Google 



414 APPENDIX. 

year, subject to renewal for a second year, at the option of 
the Goyemor. The rent chargeable to be at the rate of 2<. per 
acre for the fi^t year, and 4<. per acre for the second year. 

" No tiicences granted for a less term than one year, or for a 
smaller sum than 8Z. 

" The holder of any MiTiing Licence may exchange his Licence 
for a Mining Lease for any period not exceeding ten years, and 
at an annual rent of 8«. per acre paid in adyance. 

'' For the same period, and on the same terms, Mining Leasee 
shall be granted to any other person on approved application." 



NATIVE SCHOOL AT PERTH. 



Since the foregoing pages were written the Bishop of Perth 
has carried out his wish to establish, under his own eye, a school 
for native children similar to that conducted at Albany by 
Mrs. Camfield. The pupils have been removed from Albany 
to Perth and are now, under the superintendence of the Bifihop, 
entrusted to the care of one thoroughly well suited to a post 
of such responsibility, Miss Sheperd, late mistress of the Girls' 
School at York. At present the native children are accommo- 
dated in temporary quarters ; but a building expressly intended 
for the Native Institute has already been commenced and will 
shortly be completed, when it is hoped that an ^earnest and 
united effort will be made by the colony to carry out the purpose 
which the Bishop has so much at heart by the establishment of 
a large and prosperous native home. 



Digitized 



by Google 



APPENDIX. 415 



PALM WOOL. 



One of Hhe most useful productions of the colony, which has 
been accidentally omitted from notice in the preyions pages, is 
the fine elastic substance, resembling wool, which is found at 
the base of the leaves or fronds of the Zamia so common in 
Swan River (Zamia spiralis ?), It is much used for bedding 
and similar purposes, and might become a valuable article of 
export, as it may be procured at the price of a few pence per 
pound from those who collect it. 



L0KIX>K: FBIKTED BT SDWAJU) STAKFOBB, 6 AXD 1, CRARIHO OBOM, 8.W. 



Digitized 



by Google 






- Digitized 



by GoO' 



Digitized 



by Google 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



Digitized 



by Google 



OCT iS 1928 



f 



Digitized 



byGoog e